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The Arthur and Elizabeth 

SCHLESINGER LIBRARY 

on the History of Women 
in America 

RADCLIFFE COLLEGE 




Gift of 
Eleanor Flexner 



HUGH REES LTD 
^'b^f. REGtNT ST. 



\ 



<iYKIA: The Desert 6? the Sown 



MftnfHfiUr (tuardian, — "The possessor of 
M»44 V**A\% vdliifim \% to be envied.. Her 
\nfurtif\tu\y^t^ of hrf fiitt)jrct is at oncc thorough 
/«n/| «vni)>ith^lti . ami no better book of its 
kir»/1 ht«» U^^tx wfltti^n for many a long day." 

Mfrfninti f'oif. " Of the book as a whole, one 
r.ifi only ^ay ttiiit It IN |H*cuUarly rich in its 
^yfrT^<»<)i/fll of Umi viiiibU) and moral features 
rrf ^vt)fi nut\ ill i\w comment of an original 

oymt^rvM." 

A'/'/-/ fnfor " All rttchunting example of travel 

ftfiilv f thf^rft/'h. " Tho homely life of those 
fAf^ly vi<9il#^^l In wfll wt out in these pages, 
nrt/l n^ w^ f^ll<l, th« vrry servants of Miss 
UfU ( h/iM^fiK^^ 'lur prrnoiuil interest, and vary- 
ifidj ^^ep^fJ^ll(^» nrrni the vicissitudes of a 



gERTRUDE LOtVTHIAN 'BELL 

SYRIA 

THE DESERT 
THE SOWN 



IVITH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS 
AND A MAP 



.# 



NEW EDITION 



LONDON 
WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD 



956.9 



First printed, January 1907 

Second Impression, March 1907 

New and Cheaper Edition, October 1908 

Second Impression, February 191 9 

Third Impression, June 1928 



Copyright, London^ 190 j, by William Heinemann 



{.'• - y~ 



To A. C. L. 



WHO KNOWS THE HEART 
OF THE EAST 



X PREFACE 

traditions unmodified as yet by any important change in the 
manner of life to which they apply and out of which they 
arose. These things apart, he is as we are ; human nature 
does not undergo a complete change east of Suez, nor is it 
impossible to be on terms of friendship and sympathy with 
the dwellers in those regions. In some respects it is even 
easier than in Europe. You will find in the East habits of 
intercourse less fettered by artificial chains, and a wider 
tolerance bom of greater diversity. Society is divided by 
caste and sect and tribe into an infinite number of groups, 
each one of which is following a law of its own, and however 
fantastic, to our thinking, that law may be, to the Oriental 
it is an ample and a. satisfactory explanation of all peculiari- 
ties. A man may go about in public veiled up to the eyes, 
or clad if he please only in a girdle : he will excite no re- 
mark. Why should he ? Like every one else he is merely 
obe5ring his own law. So too the European may pass up and 
down the wildest places, encountering little curiosity and of 
criticism even less. The news he brings will be heard with 
interest, his opinions will be listened to with attention, but 
he will not be thought odd or mad, nor even mistaken, 
because his practices and the ways of his thought are at 
variance with those of the people among whom he finds him- 
self. " 'Adat-hu : " it is his custom. And for this reason he 
will be the wiser if he does not seek to ingratiate himself with 
Orientals by trying to ape their habits, unless he is so skilful 
that he can pass as one of themselves. Let him treat the 
law of others respectfully, but he himself will meet with a 
far greater respect if he adheres strictly to his own. For a 
woman this rule is of the first importance, since a woman 
can never disguise herself effectually. That she should be 
known to come of a great and honoured stock, whose 
customs are inviolable, is her best claim to consideration. 

None of the country through which I went is ground virgin 
to the traveller, though parts of it have been visited but 
seldom, and described only in works that are costly and often 
difficult to obtain. Of such places I have given a brief 
account, and as many photographs as seemed to be of value. I 
have also noted in the northern cities of Syria those vestiges 



PREFACE xi 

of antiquity that catch the eye of a casual observer. There 
is still much exploration to be done in Syria and on the edge 
of the desert, and there are many difficult problems yet to 
be solved. The work has been well begun by de Vogii6, 
Wetzstein/Briinnow, Sachau, Dussaud, Puchstein and his 
colleagues, the members of the Princeton Expedition and 
others. To their books I refer those who would learn how 
immeasurably rich is the land in architectural monuments 
and in the epigraphic records of a far-reaching history. 

My journey did not end at Alexandretta as this account 
ends. In Asia Minor I was, however, concerned mainly 
with archaeology ; the results of what work I did there 
have been published in a series of papers in the " Revue 
Archeologique," where, through the kindness of the editor. 
Monsieur Salomon Reinach, they have found a more suitable 
place than the pages of such a book as this couid have oifered 
them. 

I do not know either the people or the language of 
Asia Minor well enough to come into anything like a close 
touch with the country, but I am prepared, even on a 
meagre acquaintance, to lay tokens of esteem at the feet of 
the Turkish peasant. He is gifted with many virtues, with 
the virtue of hospitality beyond all others. 

I have been at some pains to relate the actual political 
conditions of unimportant persons. They do not appear 
so unimportant to one who is in their midst, and for my part 
I have always been grateful to those who have provided me 
with a clue to their relations with one another. But I am 
not concerned to justify or condemn the government of the 
Turk. I have lived long enough in Syria to realise that his 
rule is far from being the ideal of administration, and seen 
enough of the turbulent elements which he keeps more or less 
in order to know that his post is a difficult one. I do not 
believe that any government would give universal satisfac- 
tion ; indeed, there are few which attain that desired end 
even in more united countries. Being English, I am per- 
suaded that we are the people who could best have taken 
Syria in hand with the prospect of a success greater than that 
which might be attained by a moderately reasonable Sultan. 



xii PREFACE 

We have long recognised that the task will not fall to us 
We have unfortunately done more than this. Throughout the 
dominions of Turkey we have allowed a very great reputation 
to weaken and decline ; reluctant to accept the responsibility 
of official interference, we have yet permitted the irresponsible 
protests, vehemently expressed, of a sentimentality that I 
make bold to qualify as ignorant, and our dealings with the 
Turk have thus presented an air of vacillation which he may 
be pardoned for considering perfidious and for regarding 
with animosity. These feelings, combined with the deep- 
seated dread of a great Asiatic Empire which is also mis- 
tress of Egypt and of the sea, have, I think, led the Porte 
to seize the first opportunity for open resistance to British 
demands, whether out of simply miscalculation of the spirit 
that would be aroused, or with the hope of foreign backing, 
it is immaterial to decide. The result is equally deplorable, 
and if I have gauged the matter at all correctly, the root of it 
lies in the disappearance of English influence at Constanti- 
nople. The position of authority that we occupied has been 
taken by another, yet it is and must be of far deeper importance 
to us than to any other that we should be able to guide when 
necessary the tortuous politics of Yildiz Kiosk. The greatest 
of all Mohammedan powers cannot afford to let her relations 
with the Khalif of Islam be regulated with so little con- 
sistency or firmness, and if the Sultan's obstinacy in the 
Tabah quarrel can prove to us how far the reins have slipped 
from our hands, it will have served its turn. Seated as we 
are upon the Mediterranean and having at our command, 
as I believe, a considerable amount of goodwill within the 
Turkish empire and the memories of an ancient friendship, it 
should not be impossible to recapture the place we have lost. 

But these are matters outside the scope of the present 
book, and my apologia had best end where every Oriental 
writer would have begun : " In the name of God, the Merciful, 
the Compassionate ! " 

Mount Grace Priorv. 



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGS 

Capitals at Mnwaggar 53» 54, 55 

Milking Sheep 57 

Gablan ibn Hamud ad Da'ja 59 

On the Hajj Road 61 

Arabs Riding Marduf 65 

A Travelling Encampment of the 'Agel 67 

A Desert Well 68 

A Desert Watercourse 69 

Camels of the Haseneh . 71 

Umm ej Jemal .... • • • 73 

Watering Camels 75 

Striking Camp . 77 

Muhammad el Atrash . . . . , 79 

Desert Flora and Fauna 83 

The Castle, Salkhad 85 

Nasib el Atrash , 86 

A Group of Druzes .87 

From Salkhad Castle, looking South-East 89 

Kreyeh 93 

A Druze Ploughboy 95 

Bosra Eski Sham 97 

The Village Gateway, Habran ....... loi 

A Druze Mak*ad, Habran . . . ... . , , 103 

Lintel, el Khurbeh 106 

The Walls of Kanawat 108 

Kanawat, The Basilica 109 

Kanawat, Doorway of the Basilica . • . • . -113 

Kanawat, A Temple . . . 115 

The Temple, Mashennef 117 

KaPat el Beida . . . 1 2^, 125 

Kal'at el Beida, Door of Keep . . . . . . .127 

Mouldings from KaPat el Beida and from Palmyra . . .129 

A Gateway, Shakka 13^ 

The Sheikh's House, Hayat 133 

In the Palmyrene Desert 133 

The Great Mosque and the Roofs of the Bazaar from the Fort . 137 

A Corn Market 139 

The Kubbet el Khazneh 14 ^ 

The Tekyah of Nakshibendi 143 

Gate of the Tekyah . 145 

Mushkin Kalam . , . 14^ 

Sweetmeat Sellers 151 

Court of the Great Mosque . . . . . . . .153 

Threshing-floor of Karyatein 154 



ILLUSTRATIONS xv 

PAGS 

The Tekyah of Nakshibendi 155" 

Outside Damascus Gates . . • . . . , '157 

A Water-seller 158 

Suk Wadi Barada 161 

Ba'albek ... 165 

The Great Court, Ba'albek 167 

Columns of the Temple ot the Sun, Ba'albek i6g 

Temple of Jupiter, Ba*albek . . , . . . . .173 

Capitals in the Temple ot Jupiter, Ba'albek 177 

Fountain in the Great Court, Ba'albek 179 

Fragment of Entablature, Ba'albek 181 

Basilica of Constantine, Ba'aiDek . 183 

A Stone in the Quarry, Ba'albek .185 

Ras ul 'Ain, Ba'albek 187 

Cedars of Lebanon . . . . . .189 

The Kamu'a Hurmul 190 

An Eastern Holiday , . .191 

A Street in Homs 193 

Coffee by the Roadside '197 

KaPat el Husn , . . . 199 

Ifal'at el Husn, Interior of the Castle 203 

Windows of the Banquet Hall 205 

Kal'at el Husn, Walls of the Inner Enceinte ..... 207 

Fellahin Arabs 209 

The Temple at Husn es Suleiman . . . .215 

North Gate, Husn es Suleiman 217 

The City Gate, Masyad 218 

Capitals at Masyad 219,220 

A Na'oura, Hamah . . 221 

The Kubbeh in the Mosque at Hamah 223 

The Tekyah Killaniyyeh, Hamah 225 

Capital in the Mosque, Hamah 229 

Capitals, Hamah . . .231, 241 

Kal'at es Seijar 235 

Kal'at es Seijar, The Cutting through the Ridge . . . -237 

A House at el Barah 24 5 

Moulding at el Barah and Lintel at Khirbet Hass 247 

Tomb, Serjilla 249 

Sheikh Yunis 251 

House at Serjilla 252 

Tomb of Bi220S 253 

Church and Tomb, Ruweiha 255 

Kasr el Banat 257 

Tomb Dana • • • • • 259 



ti 



xvi ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGB 

A Beehive Village 261 

The Castle, Aleppo 263 

A Water-carrier 269 

KaPat Sim'an ^ 274, 275 

„ West Door '. . 277 

„ Circular Court 278, 279 

„ The Apse 280 

„ „ West Door 281 

A Funeral Monument, Katura 282 

Khirab esh Shems 283 

„ „ Carving in a Tomb 285 

Capital, Upper Church at Kaloteh 286 

Barad, Canopy Tomb . 287 

Barad, Tower to the West of the Town 289 

Musa and his Family 291 

Basufan, a Kurdish Girl 295 

Tomb at Dana 299 

The Bab el Hawa 301 

The Temple Gate, B&kirha . 303 

Kalb Lozeh 307 

The Apse, Kalb Lozeh 309 

Harim 311 

Salkin 313 

Travellers ' . . -315 

Antioch 318,319 

On the Bank of the Orontes, Antioch ...... 320 

The Corn Market, Antioch 323 

Roman Lamp in Rifa't Agha*s Collection 325 

Head of a Sphinx, Antioch 326 

Daphne ... ........ 327 

The Gariz 331 

The Statue in the Mulberry Garden -. 334 

Lower Course of the Gariz 337 

Sarcophagus in the Seraya, Antioch 33q 



CHAPTER I 

To those bred under an elaborate social order few such mo- 
ments of exhilaration can come as that which stands at the 
threshold of wild travel. The gates of the enclosed garden 
are thrown open, the chain at the entrance of the sanctuary 
is lowered, with a wary glance to right and left you step 
forth, and, behold ! the immeasurable world. The world 
of adventure and of enterprise, dark with hurrying storms, 
glittering in raw sunlight, an unanswered question and an 
unanswerable doubt hidden in the fold of every hill. Into it 
you must go alone, separated from the troops of friends that 
walk the rose Eilleys, stripped of the purple and firie linen that 
impede the fighting arm, roofless, defenceless, without pos- 
sessions. The voice of the wind shall be heard instead of the 
persuasive voices of counsellors, the touch of the rain and the 
prick of the frost shall be spurs sharper than praise or blame, 
and necessity shall speak with an authority unknown to that 
borrowed wisdom which men obey or discard at will. So you 
leave the sheltered close, and, like the man in the fairy story, 
you feel the bands break that were riveted about your heart 



2 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

as you enter the path that stretches across the rounded 
shoulder of the earth. 

It was a stormy morning, the 5th of February. The west 
wind swept up from the Mediterranean, hurried across the 
plain where the Canaanites waged war with the stubborn hiil 
dwellers of Judaea, and leapt the barrier of mountains to which 
the kings of Assyria and of Egypt had laid vain siege. It 
shouted the news of rain to Jerusalem and raced onwards 



down the barren eastern slopes, cleared the deep bed of Jor- 
dan with a bound, and vanished across the hills of Moab into 
the desert. And all the hounds of the storm followed behind, 
a yelping pack, coursing eastward and rejoicing as they went. 
No one with hfe in his body could stay in on such a day, 
but for me there was little question of choice. In the grey 
winter dawn the mules had gone forward carrying all my 
worldly goods — two tents, a canteen, and a month's provision 
of such slender luxuries as the austerest traveller can ill spare, 
two small mule trunks, filled mainly with photographic 
materials, a few books and a goodly sheaf of maps. The 
mules and the three muleteers I had brought with me from 
Beyrout, and liked well enough to take on into the further 
journey. The men were all from the Lebanon. A lather 



" He doesn't know much about cooking, unless he has learnt 
since he was with me, but he never seems to care twopence 
whether he lives or whether he is killed." When I repeated 
these words to Mikhail he relapsed into fits ot suppressed 



4 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

laughter, and I engaged him on the spot. It was an insuffi- 
cient reason, and as good as many another. He served me 
well according to his lights ; but he was a touchy, fiery little 
man, always ready to meet a possible offence half way, with 
an imagination to the limits of which I never attained during 
three months' acquaintance, and unfortunately he had learned 
other things besides cooking 
during the years that had 
' elapsed since he and Mr, Sykes 
had been shipwrecked together 
on Lake Van, It was typical of 
him that he never troubled to 
tell me the story of that adven- 
ture, though once when I 
alluded to it he nodded his 
head and remarked ; " We 
were as near death as a beggar 
to poverty, but your Excellency 
knows a man can die but once," 
whereas he bombarded my ears 
with tales of tourists who had 
declared they could not and 
would not travel in Syria un- 
sustained by his culinary arts. 
The 'arak bottle was his fatal 
drawback ; and after trymg 
all prophylactic methods, from 
blandishment to the hunting- 
sr. STEPHEN'S GATE, JERUSALEM crop, I parted wlth him 
abruptly on the Cilician coast, 
not without regrets other than a natural longing for his tough 
rELgfluts and cold pancakes. 

I had a great desire to ride alone down the desolate T-oad 
to Jericho, as I had done before when my face was turned to- 
wards the desert, but Mikhail was of opinion that it would be 
inconsistent with my dignity, and I knew that even his chat- 
tering companionship could not rob that road of solitude. 
At nine we were m the saddle, riding soberly round the waBs 
of Jerusalem, down into the valley of Gethsemane, past the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 7 

garden of the Agony and up on to the Mount of Olives. Here I 
paused to recapture the impression, which no familiarity can 
blunt, of the walled city on the hill, grey in a grey and stony 
landscape under the heavy sky, but illumined by the hope and 
the unquenchable longing of generations of pilgrims. Human 
aspiration, the blind reaching out of the fettered spirit towards 
a goal where all desire shall be satisfied and the soul 



find peace, these things surround the city like a halo, half 
glorious, half pitiful, shining with tears and blurred by many 
a disillusion. The west wind turned my horse and set him 
galloping over the brow of the hill and down the road that 
winds through the Wilderness of Judeea. 

At the foot of the first descent there is a spring, *Ain esh 
Shems, the Arabs call it, the Fountain of the Sun, but the 
Christian pilgrims have named it the Apostles' Well. In 
the winter you will seldom pass there without seeing some 
Russian peasants resting on their laborious way up from 
Jordan. Ten thousand of them pour yearly into the Holy 
Land, old men and women, for the most part, who have pinched 
and saved all their life long to lay together the ^30 or so which 
will carry them to Jerusalem, From the furthest ends of the 



8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Russian empire they come on foot to the Black Sea, where 
they take ship as deck passengers on board a dirty Uttle 
Russian boat. I have travelled with 300 of them from 
Smyrna to Jaffa, myself the only passenger lodged in a cabin. 
It was mid-winter, stormy and cold for those who sleep on 
deck, even if they be clothed in sheepskin coats and wadded 
top-boots. My shipmates had brought their own provisions 
with them for economy's sake — a hunch of bread, a few olives, 
a raw onion, of such was their daily meal. Morning and 
evening they gathered in prayer before an icon hanging on 
the cook's galley, and the sound of their Utanies went to 
Heaven mingled with the throb of the screw and the splash 
of the spray. The pilgrims reach Jerusalem before Christmas 
and stay till after Easter that they may Ught their tapers 
at the sacred fire that breaks out from the Sepulchre on the 
morning of the Resurrection. They wander on foot through 
all the holy places, lodging in big hostels built for them by 
the Russian Government. Many die from exposure and 
fatigue and the unaccustomed climate ; but to die in Palestine 
is.the best of favours that the Divine hand can bestow, for 
their bones rest softly in the Promised Land and their souls 
fly straight to Paradise. You will meet these most un- 
sophisticated travellers on every high road, trudging patiently 
under the hot sun or through the winter rains, clothed always 
in the furs of their own country, and bearing in their hands a 
staff cut from the reed beds of Jordan. They add a sharp 
note of pathos to a landscape that touches so many of the 
themes of mournful poetry. I heard in Jerusalem a story 
which is a better illustration of their temper than pages of 
description. It was of a man who had been a housebreaker 
and had been caught in the act and sent to Siberia, where he 
did many years of penal servitude. But when his time was 
up he came home to his old mother with a changed heart, and 
they two set out together for the Holy Land that he might 
make expiation for his sins. Now at the season when the 
pilgrims are in Jerusalem, the riff-raff of Syria congregates 
there to cheat their simplicity and pester them for alms, and 
one of these vagabonds came and begged of the Russian 
penitent at a time when he had nothing to give. The Syrian, 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 9 

enraged at his refusal, struck the other to the earth and in- 
jured him so severely that he was in hospital for three months. 



When he recovered his consul came to him and said, " We 
have got the man who nearly killed you ; before you leave 
you must give evidence against him." But the pilgrim 
answered, " No, let him go. I too am a criminal." 



10 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

• 

Beyond the fountain the road was empty, and though I 
knew it well I was struck again by the incredible desolation 
of it. No I'fc, no flowers, the bare stalks of last year's thistles, 
the bare hills and the stony road. And yet the Wilderness of 
Judaea has been nurse to the fiery spirit of man. Out of it 
strode grim prophets, menacing with doom a world of which 
they had neither part nor understanding ; the valleys are 
full of the caves that held them, nay, some are peopled to 
this day by a race of starved and gaunt ascetics, clinging 
to a tradition of piety that common sense has found it hard to 
discredit. Before noon we reached the khan half way to 
Jericho, the place where legend has it that the Good Samaritan 
met the man fallen by the roadside, and I went in to lunch 
beyond reach of the boisterous wind. Three Germans of the 
commercial traveller class were writing on picture-postcards 
in the room of the inn, and bargaining with the khanji for 
imitation Bedouin knives. I sat and listened to their vulgar 
futile talk — it was the last I was to hear of European tongues 
for several weeks, but I found no cause to regret the civilisation 
I was leaving. The road dips east of the khan, and crosses a 
dry water-course which has been the scene of many tragedies. 
Under the banks the Bedouin used to lie in wait to rob and 
murder the pilgrims as they passed. Fifteen years ago the 
Jericho road was as lawless a track as is the country now 
that lies beyond Jordan : security has travelled a few miles 
eastward during the past decade. At length we came to the 
top of the last hill and saw the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, 
backed by the misty steeps of Moab, the frontier of the desert. 
Jericho lay at our feet, an unromantic village of ramshackle 
hotels and huts wherein live the only Arabs the tourist ever 
comes to know, a base-bom stock, half bred with negro slaves. 
I left my horse with the muleteers whom we had caught up 
on the slope — '' Please God you prosper ! " " Praise be to 
God ! If your Excellency is well we are content " — and 
ran down the hill into the village. But Jericho was not 
enough for that first splendid day of the road. I desired 
eagerly to leave the tourists behind, and the hotels and the 
picture-postcards. Two hours more and we should reach 
Jordan bank, and at the head of the wooden bridge that leads 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN ii 

from Occident to Orient we might camp in a sheltered place 
under mud hillocks and am:ng thickets of reed and tamarisk. 
A halt to buy com for the horses and the mules and we were 
off again across the narrow belt of cultivated land that lies 
round Jericho, and out on to the Ghor, the Jordan valley. 

The Jericho road is bare enough, but the valley of Jordan 
has an aspect of inhumanity ^hat is almost evil. If the pro- 
phets of the Old Testament had fulminated their anathemas 



f KURUNTUL t 



against it as they did against Babylon or Tyre, no better 
proof of their prescience would exist ; but they were silent, 
and the imagination must travel back to flaming visions of 
Gomorrah and of Sodom, dim legends of iniquity that haunted 
our own childhood as they haunted the childhood of the 
Semitic races. A heavy stifling atmosphere weighed upon 
this lowest level of the earth's surface ; the wind was racing 
across the hill tops above us in the regions where men 
breathed the natural air, but the valley was stagnant and 
lifeless like a deep sea bottom. We brushed through low 
thickets of prickly sidr trees, the Spina Christi of which the 
branches are said to. have been twisted into the Crown of 
Thorns. They are of two kinds these sidr bushes, the Arabs 
call them zaknm and dom. From the zakum they extract a 
medicinal oil, the dora bears a small fruit like a crab apple that 



12 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

ripens to a reddish brown not uninviting in appearance. It 
is a very Dead Sea Fruit, pleasant to look upon and leaving 
on the lips a taste of sandy bitterness. The sidrs dwindled 
and vanished, and before us lay a sheet of hard mud on which 
no green thing grows. It is of a yellow colour, blotched with a 
venomous grey-white salt : almost unconsciously the eye 
appreciates its enmity to life. As we rode here a swirl of 
heavy rain swooped down upon us from the upper world. 
The muleteers looked grave, and even Mikhail's face began 
to lengthen, for in front of us were the Slime Pits of Genesis, 
and no horse or mule can pass over them except they be dry. 
-— , The rain lasted a 
very few minutes, 
but it was enough. 
The hard mud of the 
plain had assumed the 
consistency of butter, 
the horses' feet were 
shod in it up to the 
fetlocks, and my dog 
Kurt whined as he 
dragged his paws out 
of the yellow glue. 
So we came to the 
Slime Pits, the strangest feature of all that uncanny land. A 
quarter of a mile to the west of Jordan — the belt is much 
narrower to the east of the stream — the smooth plain re- 
solves itself suddenly into a series of steep mud banks 
intersected by narrow gullies. The banks are not high, 
thirty or forty feet at the most, out the crests of them are 
so sharp and the sides so precipitous that the traveller must 
find his way across and round them with the utmost care. 
The shower had made these slopes as slippery as glass, even 
on foot it was almost impossible to keep upright. My horse 
fell as I was leading him ; fortunately it was on a little ridge 
between mound and mound, and by the most astonishing gym- 
nastics he managed to recover himself. I breathed a ^ort 
thanksgiving when I saw my caravan emerge from the Slime 
Pits : we might, if the rain had lasted, have been imprisoned 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 13 

there for several hours, since if a horseman falls to the bottom 
of one of the sticky hollows he jnust wait there till it dries. 

Along the river bank there was life. The ground was 
carpeted with young grass and yellow daisies, the rusty 
liveries of the tamarisk bushes showed some faint signs of 
Spring. I cantered on to the great bridge with its trellised 



sides and roof of beams — the most inspiring piece of archi- 
lecture in the world, since it is the Gate of the Desert. There 
was the open place as I remembered it, covered with short 
turf, sheltered by the high mud banks, and. Heaven be praised ! 
empty. We had had cause for anxiety on this head. Tlie 
Turkish Government was at that time sending all the troops 
that could be levied to quell the insurrection in Yemen. The 
regiments of southern Syria were marched down to the bridge, 
and so on to 'Amman, where they were entrained and sent 
ilong the Mecca railway to what was then the terminus, Ma'an 



14 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

near Petra. From Ma'an they had a horrible march across 
a sandy waste to the head of the Gulf of 'Akabah. Many 
hundreds of men and many thousands of camels perished before 
they reached the gulf, for the wells upon that road are three only 
(so said the Arabs), and one lies about two miles off the track, 
undiscoverable to those who are not familiar with the country. 
We pitched tents, picketed the horses, and lighted a huge 
bonfire of tamarisk and willow. The night was grey and 
still ; there was rain on the hills, but none with us — a few 
inches represents the annual fall in the valley of Jordan. 
We were not quite alone. The Turkish Government levies 
a small toll on all who pass backwards and forwards across 
the bridge, and keeps an agent there for that purpose. He 
lives in a wattle hut by the gate of the bridge, and one or two 
ragged Arabs of the Ghor share his solitude. Among these 
was a grey-haired negro, who gathered wood for our fire, and 
on the strength of his services spent the night with us. He 
was a cheery soul, was Mabuk. He danced with pleasure, 
round the camp fire, untroubled by the consideration that he 
was one of the most preposterously misshapen of human 
beings. He told us tales of the soldiery, how they came down 
in rags, their boots dropping from their feet though it was but 
the first day's march, half starved too, poor wretches. A 
Tabur (900 men) had passed through that morning, another 
was expected to-morrow — we had just missed them. " Masha- 
'llah ! " said Mikhail, " your Excellency is fortunate. First 
you escape from the mud hills and then from the Redifs." 
" Praise be to God ! " murmured Mabuk, and from that day 
my star was recognised as a lucky one. From Mabuk we 
heard the first gossip of the desert. His talk was for ever 
of Ibn er Rashid, the young chief of the Shammar, whose 
powerful uncle Muhammad left him so uneasy a legacy of 
dominion in central Arabia. For two years I had heard no 
news of Nejd — what of Ibn Sa'oud, the ruler of Riad and Ibn 
er Rashid's rival ? How went the war between them ? Ma- 
buk had heard many rumours ; men did say that Ibn er Ras- 
hid was in great straits, perhaps the Redifs were bound for 
Nejd and not for Yemen, who knew? and had we heai^d that 
a sheikh of the Sukhur had been murdered by the 'Ajarmeh, 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 15 

and as soon as the tribe came back from the eastern pas- 
turages. . . . So the tale ran on through the familiar stages of 



blood feud and camel lifting, the gossip of the desert — I could 
have wept for joy at listening to it again. There was a Babe' 
of Arabic tongues round my camp fire that evening, for Mik- 
hail spoke the vulgar cockney of Jerusalem, a language bereft 



i6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of dignity, and Habib a dialect of the Lebanon at immense 
speed, and Muhammad had the Beyrouti drawl with its slow 
expressionless swing, while from the negro's lips fell something 
approaching to the virile and splendid speech of the Bedouin. 
The men themselves were struck by the variations of accent, 
and once they turned to me and asked which was right. I 
could only reply, ** God knows ! for He is omniscient," and 
the answer received a laughing acceptance, though I confess I 
proffered it with some misgiving. 

The dawn broke windless and grey. An hour, and a half 
from the moment I was awakened till the mules were ready 
to start was the appointed rule, but sometimes we were off 
ten minutes earlier, and sometimes, alas ! later. I spent the 
time in conversing with the guardian of the bridge, a native 
of Jerusalem. To my sympathetic ears did he confide his 
sorrows, the mean tricks that the Ottoman government was 
accustomed to play on him, and the hideous burden of exis- 
tence during the summer heats. And then the remunera- 
tion ! a mere nothing ! His gain^ were hrger, however, than 
he thought fit to name, for I subsequently discovered that he 
had charged me three piastres instead of two for each of iny 
seven stnimals. It is easy to be on excellent terms with Orien- 
tals, and if their friendship has a price it is usually a small one. 
We crossed the Rubicon at three piastres a head and took 
the northern road which leads to Salt. The middle road goes 
to Heshban, where lives the great Sheikh of all the Arabs of the 
Belka, Sultan ibn 'AH id Diab ul 'Adwan, a proper rogue, and 
the southern to Madeba in Moab. The eastern side of the 
Ghor is much more fertile than the western. Enough water 
flows from the beautiful hills of Ajlun to turn the plain into a 
garden, but the supply is not stored, and the Arabs of the 
'Adwan tribes content themselves with the sowing of a Uttle 
com. The time of flowers was not yet. At the end of March 
the eastern Ghor is a carpet of varied and lovely bloom, which 
lasts but a month in the fierce heat of the valley, indeed a month 
sees the plants through bud and bloom and ripened seed. A 
ragged Arab showed us the path. He had gone down to join 
the Redifs, having been bought as a substitute at the price of 
fifty napoleons by a well-to-do inhabitant of Salt. When he 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 17 

reached the bridge he found he was too late, his regiment 
having passed through two days before. He was sorry, he 
would have liked to march forth to the war {moreover, 
I imagine the fifty liras would have to be refunded), but his 
daughter would te glad, for she had wept to see him go. He 
stopped to extricate one of his leather slippers from the mud. 



JBRUSALEM 



*' Next year," quoth he, catching me up again, " please 
God I shall go to America." 

I stared in amazement at the half-naked figure, the shoes 
dropping from the bare feet, the torn cloak slipping from the 
shoulders, the desert head-dress of kerchief and camel's hair 
rope. 

" Can you speak any English ? " I asked, 

" No," he replied calmly, " but I shall have saved the price 
of the journey, and, by God ! here there is no advancement." 

I inquired what he would do when he reached the States. 

" Buy and sell," he replied ; " and when I have saved 200 
1 ras I shall return." 

The same story can be heard all over Syria. Hundreds go 



i8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

out every year, finding wherever they land some of their com- 
patriots to give them a helping hand. They hawk the streets 
with cheap wares, sleep under bridges, live on fare that no 
freebom citizen would look at, and when they have saved 
200 liras, more or less, they return, rich men in the 
estimation of their village. East ot Jordan the exodus 
is not so great, yet once in the mountains of the Iilauran I 
stopped to ask ray way of 
a Druze, and he answered 
me in the purest Yankee. 
I drew rein while he told 
me his tale, and at the 
e::d of it I asked him if 
he were going back. He 
looked round at the stone 
hovels of the village, knee 
deep in mud and melting 
s ■-ow : " You bet ! " he 
replied, and as I turned 
away he threw a cheer- 
ful " So long ! " after 
me. 

When we had ridden 
JEWS OF BOKHARA ^^^ hoMts wc eutcred the 

hills by a winding valley which my friend called W5d 
el Hassamyyeh, after the tribe of that name. It was 
full of anemones and white broom (rattam the Arabs call 
it), cyclamen, starch hyacinths, and wild almond trees. 
For plants without a use, however lovely they may be, 
there is no name in .'Vrabic ; they are ail hcshish, grass ; 
whereas the smallest vegetable that can be of service is 
known and distinguished in their speech. The path— it 
was a mere bridle track — rose gradually. Just before we 
entered the mist that covered the top of the hill we saw 
the Dead Sea below us to tl e south, lying under the grey 
sky like a great sheet of clouded glas?. We rr-ached Salt at 
four o'clock in real mountain weatlier, a wet and driving 
mist. Moreover, the ground near the \illage was a swamp, 
owing to the rain that, pissing over us the night before. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 19 

f 

had fallen here. I hesitated to camp unless I could find no 
drier lodging. The first thing was to seek out the house of 
Habib Effendi Fans, whom I had come to Salt to see, though I 
did not know him. My claim upon him (for I relied entirely 
upon his help for the prosecution of my journey) was in this 
wise : he was married to the daughter of a native preacher 
in Haifa, a worthy old man and a close friend of mine. Urfa 
on the Euphrates was the Stammplatz of the family, but Abu 
Namrud had lived long at Salt and he knew the desert. The 
greater part of the hours during which he was supposed to 
teach me grammar were spent in listening to tales of the Arabs 
and of his son, Namrud, who worked with Habib Paris, and 
whose name was known to every Arab of the Belka. 

** If ever you wish to enter there," said Abu Namrud, " go 
to Namrud." And to Namrud accordingly I had come. 

A very short inquiry revealed the dwelling of Habib Paris. 
I was received warmly, Habib was out, Namrud away (was 
my luck forsaking me ?),but would I not come in and rest ? 
The house was small and the children many : while I debated 
whether the soaked ground outside would not prove a better 
bed, there appeared a magnificent old man in full Arab dress, 
who took my horse by the bridle, declared that he and no 
other should lodge me, and so led me away. I left my horse 
at the khan, climbed a long and muddy stair, and entered a 
stone paved courtyard. Yusef Effendi hurried forward and 
threw open the door of his guest-chamber. The floor and the 
divan were covered with thick carpets, the windows glazed 
(though many of the panes were broken), a European cheffonier 
stood against the wall : this was more than good enough. In 
a moment I was established, drinking Yusef's coffee, and 
eating my own cake. 

Yusef Effendi Sukkar (upon him be peace !) is a Christian 
and one of the richest of the inhabitants of Salt. He is a 
laconic man, but as a host he has not his equal. He preparea 
me an excellent supper, and when I had eaten, the remains 
were set before Mikhail. Having satisfied my physical needs 
he could not or would not do anything to allay my mental 
anxieties as to the further course. Portunately at this mo- 
ment Habib Paris arrived, and his sister-in-law, PauUna, an 



20 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

old acquaintance, and several other worthies, all hastening to 
" honour themselves " at the prospect of an evening's talk. 
(" God forbid ! the honour is mine ! ") We settled down to 
coffee, the bitter black coffee of the Arabs, which is better than 
any nectar. The cup is handed with a "Deign to accept," 
you pass it back empty, murmuring "May you live ! ' As 
you sip some one 
ejaculates, " A double 
health," and you reply, 
" Upon your heart ! '* 
When the cups had gone 
round once or twice and 
all necessary phrases of 
politeness had been ex- 
changed I entered upon 
the business of the 
evening. How was I to 
reach the Druze inoun- 
tains ? the Government 
would probably refuse 
me permission, at 'Am- 
man there was a mili- 
tary post on the entrance 
of the desert road; at 
Bosra they knew me, 
I had slipped through 
ABTss.N,AN PR.EST. t^eif fifigers five years 

before, a tnck that 
would be difficult to play a second time from the same 
place. Habib Paris considered, and finally we hammered 
out a plan between us. He would send me to-morrow to 
Tneib, his com land on Ihe edge of the desert; there I 
should find Namrud who would despatch word to one of the 
big tnbes, and with an escort from them I could ride up in 
safety to the hills. Yusef s two small sons sat listening open- 
eyed, and at the end of the talk one of them brought me a scrap 
of an advertisement with the map of America upon it. There- 
at I showed them my maps, and told them how big the 
world was and how fine a place, till at ten the party broke up 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 21 

and Yusef began spreading quilts for my bed. Then and 
not till then did I see my hostess. She was a woman of ex- 
ceptional beauty, tall and pale, her face a full oval, her great 
eyes like stars. She wore Arab dress, a narrow dark blue 
robe that caught round her bare ankles as she walked, a dark 
blue cotton veil bound about her forehead with a red hand- 
kerchief and falling down her back almost to the ground. Her 
chin and neck were tattooed in delicate patterns with indigo, 
after the manner of the Bedouin women. She brought me 
water, which she poured over my hands, moved about the 
room silently, a dark and stately figure, and having finished her 
ministrations she disappeared as silently as she had come, and 
I saw her no more. " She came in and saluted me," said the 
poet, he who lay in durance at Mecca, " then she rose and 
took her leave, and when she departed my soul went out 
after her." No one sees Yiisefs wife. Christian though he 
be, he keeps her more strictly cloistered than any Moslem 
woman; and perhaps after all he is right. 

The rain beat against the windows, and I lay down on the 
quilts with Mikhail's exclamation in my ears : " Masha- 
'liah I your Excellency is fortunate." 



CHAPTER II 

The village of Salt is a prosperous community of over 10,000 
souls, the half of them Christian. It lies in a rich country 
famous for grapes and apricots, its gardens are mentioned 
with praise as far back as the fourteenth century by the Arab 
geographer Abu'l F.da. There is a ruined castle, of what date 
I know not, on the hill above the clustered house roofs. The 
tradition among the inhabitants is that the town is very 
ancient; indeed, the Christians declare that in vSaltwas one of 
the first of the congregations of their faith, and there is even a 
legend that Christ was His own evangelist here. Although 
the apricot trees shewed nothing as yet but bare boughs 
the valley had an air of smiling wealth as I rode through it 
with Hab'b Paris, who had mounted his mare to set me on 
my way. He had his share in the apricot orchards and 
the vineyards, and smiled agreeably, honest man, as I com- 
mended them. Who would not have smiled en such a mom* 
ing ? The sun shone, the earth glittered with frost, and the 
air had a sparkling transparency which comes only on a 
bright winter day after rain. But it was not merely a general 
sense of goodwill that had inspired my words ; the Chris- 
tians of Salt and of Madeba are an intelligent and an in- 
dustrious race, worthy to be praised. During the five years 
since I had visited this district they had pushed forward 
the limit of cultivation two hours' ride to the east, and proved 
the value of the land so conclusively that when the Hajj 
railway was opened through it the Sultan laid hands on a 
great tract stretching as far south as Ma' an. intending to 
convert it into a chiflik, a royal farm. It will yield riches 
to him and to his tenants, for if he be an indifferent ruler, 
he is a good landlord. 
Half an hour from Salt, Habib left me, committing me 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 23 

to the care of his hind, Yusef, a stalwart man, who strode 
by ray side with his wooden club (Gunwa, the Arabs call it) 
over his shoulder. We journeyed through wide valleys, 
treeless, uninhabited, and almost uncultivated, round the 
head of the Eelka plain, and past the opening of the Wady 
Sir, down which a man may ride through oak woods all 
the way to the Gh5r. There would 
be trees on the hills too if the char- 
coal burners would let them grow 
— we passed by many dwarf thickets 
of oak and thorn — but I would have 
nothing changed in the delicious 
land east of Jordan. A generation 
or two hence it will be deep in 
com and scattered over with villages, 
the waters of the Wady Sir will 
turn mill-wheels, and perhaps there 
will even be roads : praise be to 
God ! I shall not be there to s?e. 
In my lime the uplands will still 
continue to be that delectable region 
of which Omar Khaj^am sings : "The 
strip of herbage strown that just 
divides the desert from the sown"; ' 

they will still be empty save for a 
stray shepherd standing over his flock with a long-barrelled 
rifle; and when 1 meet the rare horseman who rides over 
those hills and ask him whence he comes, he will stUl 
answer : " May the world be wide to you ! from the 
Arabs." 

That was where we were going, to the Arabs. In the desert 
there are no Bedouin, the tent dwellers are all 'Arab (with 
a fine roll of the initial guttural), just as there are no tents 
but houses — " houses of hair " they say sometimes if a quali- 
fication be needed, but usually just " houses " with a supreme 
disregard for any other significance to the word save that 
of a black goat's hair roof. You may be 'Arab after a fashion 
even if you live between walls. The men of Salt are classed 
among the tribes of the Belka, with the Abadeh and the 



24 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Da'ja and the Hassaniyyeh and several more that form the 
great troup of the 'Adwan. Two powerful rulers dispute the 
mastership here of the Syrian desert, the Beni Sakhr and 
the 'Anazeh. There is a traditional friendship, barred by regret- 
table incidents, between the Sukhur and the Belka, perhaps 
that was why I heard in these parts that the 'Anazeh were 



the more numerous but the less distinguished for courage 
of the two factions. I have a bowing acquaintance with 
one of the sons of Talal ul Faiz, the head of all the Beni Sakhr. 
I had met him five years before in these very plains, a month 
later in the season, by which time his tribe moves Jordan- 
wards out of the warm eastern pasturages. I was riding, 
escorted by a Circassian zaptieh, from Madeba to Mshitta — 
it was before the Germans had sliced the carved fa9ade from 
that wonderful building. The plain was covered with the 
flocks and the black tents of the Sukhur, and as we rode 
through them three horsemen paced out to intercept us, black- 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 25 

browed, armed to the teeth, menacing of aspect. They 
threw us the salute from afar, but when they saw the 
soldier they turned and rode slowly back. The Circassian 
laughed. " That was Sheikh Faiz," he said, " the son of 
Talal. Like sheep, wallah ! like sheep are they when they 
meet one of us." I do not know the 'Anazeh, for their usual 



seat in winter is nearer the Euphrates, but with all deference 
to the Sukhur I fancy that their rivals are the true aristo- 
cracy of the desert. Their ruling house, the Beni Sha'alan, 
bear the proudest name, and their mares are the best in all 
Arabia, so that even the Shammar, Ibn er Rashid's people, 
seek after them to improve their own breed. 

From the broken uplands that stand over the Ghor, we 
entered ground with a shallow roll in it and many small 
ruined sites dotted over it. There was one at the head of 
the Wady Sir, and a quarter of an hour before we reached 
it we had seen a considerable mass of foundations and a big 
tank, which the Arabs call Birket Umm el 'Amud (the tank 



26 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of the Mother of the Pillar). Yusef said its name was due 
to a column which used to stand in the middle of it, sur- 
rounded by the water ; an Arab shot at it and broke it, and 
its fragments lie at the bottom of the tank. The mound 
or tell, to give it its native name, of Amereh is covered with 
ruins, and further on at Yadudeh there are rock-hewn 
tombs and sarcophagi lying at the edge of the tank. All 
the frontier of the desert is strewn with similar vestiges of 
a populous past, villages of the fifth and sixth centuries when 
Madeba was a rich and flourishing Christian city, though 
some are certainly earlier still, perhaps pre-Roman. 
Yadudeh of the tombs was inhabited by a Christian from 
Salt, the greatest corn-grower in these parts, who lived 
in a roughly built farm-house on the top of the tell ; h^ too 
is one of the energetic new-comers who are engaged in 
spreading the skirts of cultivation. Here we left the rolling 
country and passed put into the edges of a limitless plain, 
green with scanty herbage, broken by a rounded tell or the 
back of a low ridge — and then the plain once more, rest- 
ful to the eye yet never monotonous, steeped in the magic 
of the winter sunset, softly curving hollows to hold the mist, 
softly swelling slopes to hold the light, and over it all the dome 
of the sky which vaults the desert as it vaults the sea. 
The first hillock was that of Tneib. We got in, after a nine 
hours' march, at 5.30, just as the sun sank, and pitched tents 
on the southern slope. The mound was thick with ruins, 
low walls of rough-hewn stones laid without mortar, rock- 
cut cisterns, some no doubt originally intended not for water 
but for corn, for which purpose they are used at present, 
and an open tank filled up with earth. Namrud had ridden 
over to visit a neighbouring cultivator, but one of his men 
set forth to tell him of my arrival and he returned at ten o'clock 
under the frosty starlight, with many protestations of pleasure 
and assurances that my wishes were easy of execution. So 
I went to sleep wrapped in the cold silence of the desert, and 
woke next day to a glittering world of sunshine and fair 
prospects. 

The first thing to be done was to send out to the Arabs. 
After consultation,* the Da'ja, a tribe of the Belka, were 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 27 

decided to be the nearest at hand and the most likely to 
prove of use, and a messenger was despatched to their tents. 
We spent the morning examining the mound and looking 
through a mass of copper coins that had turned up under 
Namrud's ploughshare — Roman all of them, one showing 
dimly the features of Constantine, some earlier, but none of 
the later Byzantine period, nor any of the time of the Crusaders , 



as far as the evidence of coinage goes, Tneib has been deserted 
since the date of the Arab invasion. Namrud had discovered 
the necropolis, but there was nothing to be found in the tombs, 
which had probably been rifled centuries before. They were 
rock-cut and of a cistern-like character. A double arch of the 
solid rock with space between for a narrow entrance on the 
surface of the ground, a few jutting excrescences on the side 
walls, footholds to those who must descend, loculi running 
like shelves round the chambers, one row on top of another, 
such was their appearance. Towards the bottom of the 
mound on the south side there were foundations of a 
building which looked as though it might have been a 
church. But these were poor results for a day's explora- 
tion, and in the golden afternoon we rode out two hours 



28 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

to the north into a wide valley set between low banks. 
There were ruins strewn at intervals round the edge of it, 
and to the east some broken walls standing up in the 
middle of the valley — Namrud called the spot, Kuseir es 
Sahl, the Little Castle of the Plain. Our objective 
was a group of buildings at the western end, Khureibet 
es Suk. First we came to a small edifice (41 feet by 39 
feet 8 iaches, the greatest length being from east to west) 
half buried in the ground. Two sarcophagi outside pointed to 
its having been a mausoleum. The western wall was pierced by 
an arched doorway, the arch being decorated with a flat mould- 
ing. Above the level of the arch the walls narrowed by the extent 
of a small set-back, and two courses higher a moulded cornice 
ran round the building. A couple of hundred yards west 
of the Kasr or castle (the Arabs christen most ruins either 
castle or convent) there is a ruined temple. It had evidently 
been turned at some period to other uses than those for 
which it was intended, for there were ruined walls round the 
two rows of seven columns and inexplicable cross walls 
towards the western end of the colonnades. There appeared 
to have been a double court beyond, and still further west 
lay a complex of ruined foundations. The gateway was to 
the east, the jambs of it decorated with delicate carving, 
a fillet, a palmetto, another plain fillet, a torus worked with 
a vine scroll, a bead and reel, an egg and dart and a second 
palmetto on the cyma. The whole resembled very closely 
the work at Palmyra — it could scarcely rival the stone lace- 
work of Mshitta, and besides it had a soberer feeling, more 
closely akin to classical models, than is to be found there. 
To the north of the temple on top of a bit of rising ground, 
there was another ruin which proved to be a second mauso- 
leum. It was an oblong rectangle of masonry, built of large 
stones carefully laid without mortar. At the south-east 
comer a stair led into a kind of ante-chamber, level with 
the surface of the ground at the east side owing to the slope 
of the hill. There were column bases on the outer side of this 
ante-chamber, the vestiges probably of a small colonnade which 
had adorned the east facade. Six sarcophagi were placed 
lengthways, two along each of the remaining walls, north, 



THE TEMPLE, KHUEEIBET ES SUIJ 



32 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

tribe was still far to the east, where the winter climate is less 
rigorous), and the day's rain had been too much for the male 
inhabitants. They had mounted their mares and ridden 
in to Tneib, leaving their women and children to shift for 
themselves during the night. An hour's society presented 
attractions after the long wet day, and I joined the company. 
Namrud's cave runs far into the ground, so far that it 
must penetrate to the very centre of the hill of Tneib. The 
first large chamber is obviously natural, except for the 
low sleeping , places and mangers for cattle that have been 
quarried out round the walls. A narrow passage carved 
in the rock leads into a smaller room, and there are yet others 
behind which I took on trust, the hot stuffy air and the 
innumerable swarms of flies discouraging me from further 
exploration. That evening the cave presented a scene primi- 
tive and wild enough to satisfy the most adventurous spirit. 
The Arabs, some ten or a dozen men clothed in red leather 
boots and striped cloaks soaked with rain, were sitting in 
the centre round a fire of scrub, in the ashes of which stood 
the three coffee-pots essential to desert sociability. Behind 
them a woman cooked rice over a brighter fire that cast a 
flickering light into the recesses of the cave, and showed 
Namrud's cattle munching chopped straw from the rock- 
hewn mangers. A place comparatively free from mud was 
cleared for me in the circle, a cup of coffee prepared, and the 
talk went forward while a man might smoke an Arab pipe 
five times. It was chiefly of the iniquities of the govern- 
ment. The arm of the law, or rather the mailed fist of mis- 
rule, is a constant menace upon the edges of the desert. 
This year it had been quickened to baleful activity by the 
necessities of war. Camels and mares had been commandeered 
wholesale along the borders without hope of compensation 
in money or in kind. The Arabs had gathered together 
such live stock as was left to them and sent them away five 
or six days to the east, where the soldiery dared not penetrate, 
and Namrud had followed their example, keeping only such 
cattle as he needed for the plough. One after another of 
my fellow guests took up the tale : the guttural strong speech 
rumbled round the cave. By God and Muhammad the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 33 

Prophet of God we called down such curses upon the Circas- 
sian cavalry as should make those powerful horsemen reel in 
their saddles. From time to time a draped head, with black 
elf locks matted round the cheeks under the striped kerchief, 
bent forward towards the glow of the ashes to pick up a hot 
ember for the pipe bowl, a hand was stretched out to the 
coffee cups, or the cooking fire flashed up under a pile of 
thorn, the sudden light making the flies buzz and the cows 
move uneasily. Na- 
mrud was not best 
pleased to see his 
hardly gathered 
store of fire - wood 
melt away and his 
coffee - beans disap- 
pear by bandfuls 
into the mortar. 
("Wallah! they eat 
little when they feed 
themselves, but when 
they are guests 
much, they and their 
horses ; and the com 
is low at this late 

season.") But the ka ^ o the la 

word "guest" is sacred from Jordan to Euphrates and 
Namrud knew well that he owed a great part of his position 
and of his security to a hospitality which was extended to all 
comers, no matter how inopportune. I added my quota to 
the conviviality of the party by distributing a box of 
cigarettes, and before I left a friendly feeling had been 
established between me and the men of the Beni Sakhr. 

The following day was little more promising than that 
which had preceded it. The muleteers were most unwilling 
to leave the shelter of the caves and expose their animals 
to such rain in the open desert, and reluctantly I agreed to 
postpone the journey, and sent them into MSdeba, three 
hours away, to buy oats for the horses, cautioning them not 
to mention from whom they came. It cleared a little in 



34 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the afternoon, and I rode across the plain southwards to 
Kastal, a fortified Roman camp standing on a mound. 

This type of camp was not uncommon on the eastern fron- 
tiers of the Empire, and was imitated by the Ghassanids 
when they estabUshed themselves in the Syrian desert, 
if indeed Mshitta was, as has been surmised, but a more 
exquisite example of the same kind of building. Kastal 
has a strong enclosing wall broken by a single gate to the 
east and by round bastions at the angles and along the sides. 
Within, there is a series of parallel vaulted chambers leaving 
an open court in the centre — the plan with slight variations 
of Kal'at el Beida in the Safa and of the modem caravan- 

• • • 

serai.* To the north there is a separate building, probably 
the Pr«torium, the house of the commander of the fortress. 
It consists of an immense vaulted chamber, with a walled 
court in front of it, and a round tower at the south- 
west comer. The tower has a winding stair inside it and 
a band of decoration about the exterior, rinceaux above 
and fluted triglyphs below, with narrow blank metopes 
between them. The masonry is unusually good, the walls 
of great thickness ; with such defences stretching to his 
furthest borders, the citizen of Rome might sleep secure o' 
nights. 

When I passed by Kastal, five years before, it was un- 
inhabited and the land round it uncultivated, but a few 
families of fellahin had established themselves now imder 
the broken vaults and the young com was springing in the 
levels below the walls, circumstances which should no doubt 
warm the heart of the lover of humanity, but which will send 
a cold chill through the breast of the archaeologist. There 
is no obliterator like the plough-share, and no destroyer like 
the peasant who seeks cut stones to build his hovel. I noted 
another sign of encroaching civilisation in the shape of 
two half-starved soldiers, the guard of the nearest halting- 
place on the Haj j railroad, which is called Zlza after the ruins 

* Admirable plans and photographs of the fort have been published 
by Briinnow and Domaszewsld in vol. ii. of their great work, " Die 
Provincia Arabia " This volume was not out at the time I visited 
KastaL 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 35 

a few miles to the west of it. The object of their visit 
was the lean hen which one of them held in his hand. He 
had reft it from its leaner companions in the fortress 
court — on what terms it were better not to inquire, for 
hungry men know no law. I was not particularly eager to 
have my presence on these frontiers notified to the autho- 
rities in 'AmmSn, and 1 left rather hastily and rode eastward 
to ZizsL. 
The rains had filled the desert watercourses, they do not 



often flow so deep or so swiftly as the one we had to cross 
that afternoon. It had filled, too, to the brim the great 
Roman tank of Ziza, so that the Sukhur would find water 
there all through the ensuing summer. The ruins are far 
more extensive than those at Kastal ; there must have been a 
great city here, for the foundations of houses cover a wide area. 
Probably Kastal was the fortified camp guarding this city, 
and the two together shared the name of Zlza, which is men- 
tioned in the Notitia : " Equites Dalmatici Illyriciana Ziza." 
There is a Saracenic Kal'ai, a fort, which was repaired by 
Sheikh Soktan of the Sukhur, and had been furnished by him, 
said Namrud, with a splendour unknown to the desert ; but 
it has now fallen to the Sultan, since it stands in the territory 
selected by him for his chiflik, and fallen also into ruin. The 
mounds behind are strewn with foundations, among them 
those of a mosque,^the mihrab of which was still visible to the 



36 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

south. Ziza was occupied by a garrison of Egyptians in 
Ibrahim Pasha's time, and it was his soldiers who completed 
the destruction of the ancient buildings. Before they came 
many edifices, including several Christian churches, were still 
standing in an almost perfect state of preservation, so the 
Arabs reported. We made our way homewards along 
the edge of the railway embankment, and as we went we 
talked of the possible advantages that the land might reap 
from that same line. 
l" ■ ''"■"' '" ' " - '~~~ 1 Namrud was doubt- 

■ ■ ' ful on this subject. 

I .He looked askance 

at the officials and 
the soldiery, indeed 
he had more cause 
to fear official 
raiders, whose ra- 
pacity could not be 
disarmed by hospi- 
tality, than the 
Arabs, who were 
under too many ob- 
THE KAL'AH AT zizA ^ llgatioHs to him to 

do him much harm. 
He had sent up a few truck-loads of com to Damascus the 
year before ; yes, it was an easier form of transport than his 
camels, and quicker, if the goods arrived at all ; but generally 
the com sacks were so much lighter when they reached the 
city than when Namrud packed them into the trucks that the 
profit vanished. This would improve perhaps in time — at 
the time when lamps and cushions and all the fittngs of the 
desert railway except the bare seats were allowed to remain 
in the place for which they were made and bought. We 
spoke, too, of superstition and of fears that clutch the heart 
at night. There are certain places, said he, where the Arabs 
would never venture after dark — haunted wells to which 
thirsty men dared not approach, ruins where the weary would 
not seek shelter, hollows that were bad camping grounds for 
the solitary. What did they fear ? Jinn; who could tell 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 37 

what men feared ? He himseH had startled an Arab almost 
out of bis wits by jumping naked at him from a lonely pool 
in the half light of the dawn. The man ran back to his tents, 
and swore that he had seen a jinni, and that the flocks should 
not go down to water where it abode, till Namrud came in 
and laughed at him and told his own tale. 

We did not go straight back to my tents. I had been 
invited out to dine that evening by Sheikh Nahar of the Beni 
Sakhr, he who 
had spent the 
previous night in 
Namiud's cave ; 
and after consul- 
tat ion it had 
been decided 
that the invita- 
tion was one 
which a person of 
my exalted dig- 
nity would not be 
compromised by 

accepting. ^ christian BNCAMPMENT 

" But in gene- 
ral," added Namrud, " you should go nowhere but to a 
great sheikh's tent, or you will fall into the hands of 
those who invite you only for the sake of the present you 
will give. Nahar — well, he is an honest man, thcugh he be 
Meskin," — a word that covers all forms of mild contempt, 
from that which is extended to honest poverty, through 
imbecility to the first stages of feeble vice. 

The Meskin received me with the dignity of a prince, and 
motioned me to the place of honour on the ragged carpet 
between the square hole in the ground that serves as hearth 
and the partition that separates the women's quarters from 
the men's. We had tethered our horses to the long tent ropes 
that give such wonderful solidity to the frail dwelling, and 
our eyes wandered out from where we sat over the eastward 
sweep of the landscape — swell and fall, fall and swell, as 
though the desert breathed quietly under the gathering night. 



38 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

The lee side of an Arab tent is always open to the air ; if the 
wmd shifts the women take down the tent wall and set it up 
against another quarter, and in a moment your house has 
changed its outlook and faces gaily to the most favourable 
prospect. It is so small and so light and yet so strongly 
anchored that the storms can do little to it ; the coarse meshes 
of the goat's hair cloth swell and close together in the wet so 
that it needs continuous rain carried on a high wind before a 
cold stream leaks into the dwelling-place. 

The coffee beans were roasted and crushed, the coffee-pots 
were simmering in the ashes, when there came three out of 
the East and halted at the open tent. They were thick-set, 
broad-shouldered men, with features of marked irregularity 
and projecting teeth, and they were cold and wet with rain. 
Room was made for them in the circle round the hearth, and 
they stretched out their fingers to the blaze, while the talk 
went on uninterrupted, for they were only three men of the 
Sherarat, come down to buy com in Moab, and the Sherarat, 
though they are one of the largest and the most powerful 
of the tribes and the most famous breeders of camels, are 
of bad blood, and no Arab of the Belka would intermarry 
with them. Thev have no fixed haunts, not even in the time 
oi the summer drought, but roam the inner desert scarcely 
caring if they go without water for days together. The 
conversation round Nahar's fire was of my journey. A negro 
of the Sukhur, a powerful man with an intelligent face, was 
very anxious to come with me as guide to the Druze moun- 
tains, but he admitted that as soon as he reached the territory 
of those valiant hillmen he would have to turn and flee — there 
is always feud between the Druzes and the Beni Sakhr. The 
negro slaves of the Sukhur are well used by their masters, 
who know their worth, and they have a position of their own 
in the desert, a glory reflected from the great tribe they serve. 
I was half inclined to accept the present offer in spite of the 
possible drawback of having the negro dead upon my hands 
at the first Druze village, when the current of my thoughts 
was interrupted by the arrival of yet another guest. He 
was a tall young man, with a handsome delicate face, a com- 
plexion that was almost fair, and long curls that were almost 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 39 

brown. As he approached, Nahar and the other sheikhs of 
the Sukhur rose to meet him, and before he entered the tent, 
each in turn kissed him upon both cheeks. Namrud rose 
also, and cried to him as he drew near : 

" Good ? please God ! Who is with you -■' " 

The young man 
raised his hand 
and rephed : 

" God ! " 

He was alone. 

Without seem- 
ing to notice the 
rest of the com- 
pany, his eye em- 
braced the three 
sheikhs of the 
SherarSt eating 
mutton and curds 
in the entrance, 
and the strange 
woman by the fire, 
as with murmured 
salutations he 
passed into the 
back of the tent, 
refusing Nahar's 
offer of food- He 

was Gablan, of flo.ks of the .ukhCr 

the ruling houseof the Da'ja, cousin to the reigning sheikh, and, 
as I subsequently found, he had heard that Namrud needed 
a guide for a foreigner — news travels apace in the desert — 
and had come to take me to his uncle's tents. We had not 
sat for more than five minutes after his arrival when Nahar 
whispered something to Namrud, who turned to me and 
suggested that since we had dined we might go and take 
Gablan with us. I was surprised that the evening's gossip 
should be cut so short, but I knew better than to make any 
objection, and as we cantered home across Namrud's ploughland 
and up the hill of Tneib, I heard the reason. There was 



40 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

blood between the Da'ja and the Sherarat. At the first 
glance Gablan had recognised the lineage of his fellow guests, 
and nad therefore retired silently into the depths of the tent. 
He would not dip his hand in the same mutton dish with them. 
Nahar knew, as who did not ? the difficuly of the situation, 
but he could not tell how the men of the Sherarat would take 
it, and, for fear of accidents, he had hurried us away. But 
by next morning the atmosphere had cleared (metaphorically, 
not literally), and a day of streaming rain kept the blood 
enemies sitting amicably round Namrud's coffee-pots in the 
cave. 

The third day's rain was as much as human patience could 
endure. I had forgotten by this time what it was like not to 
feel damp, to have warm feet and dry bed clothes. Gablan 
spent an hour with me in the morning, finding out what I 
wished of him. I explained that if he could take me through 
the desert where I should see no military post and leave 
me at the foot of the hills, I should desire no more. Gablan 
considered a moment. 

" Oh lady," said he, " do you think you will be brought 
into conflict with the soldiery ? for if so, I will take my rifle." 

I replied that I did not contemplate declaring open war 
with all the Sultan's chivalry, and that with a little care I 
fancied that such a contingency might be avoided ; but Gablan 
was of opinion that strategy went further when winged with a 
bullet, and decided that he would take his rifle with him all the 
same. 

In the afternoon, having nothing better to do, I watched 
the Sherarat buying com from Namrud. But for my incon- 
gruous presence and the lapse of a few thousand years, they 
might have been the sons of Jacob come down mto Egypt 
to bicker over the weight of the sacks with their brother 
Joseph. The corn was kept in a deep dry hole cut in the rock, 
and was drawn out like so much water in golden bucketsful. 
It had been stored with chaff for its better protection, and 
the first business was to sift it at the well-head, a labour that 
could not be executed without much and angry discussion. 
Not even the camels were silent, but joined in the argument 
with groans and bubblings, as the Arabs loaded them with the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 41 

full sacks. The Sheikhs of the Sukhur and the Sherarat sat 
round on stones m the drizzUng mist, and sometimes they 
muttered, "God! God 1" and sometimes they exclaimed, 
*' He is merciful and compassionate!" Not infrequently 
the sifted com was poured back among the unsifted, and a 
dialogue of this sort ensued: 

Namrnd : " Upon thee ! upon thee ! oh boy ! may thy 
dwelhng be destroyed ! may thy days _ 

come to harm 1 " ' . 

Bent Sakhr : " By the face of the 
Prophet of God ! may He be ex- 
alted ! " 

Sherarat [in suppressed chorus) : 
" God ! and Muhammad the Pro- 
phet of God, upon Him be peace ! " 

A party in bare legs and a sheepskin : 
" Cold, cold ! Wallah ! rain and 
cold ! " 

NamrSd : " Silence, oh brother 1 
descend into the well and draw corn- 
It is warm there." 

Beni Sakhr : " Praise be to God 
the Almighty ! " 

Chorus of Camels : " B-b-b-b-b-dd- 
G-r-r-o-o-a-a," 

_ , ^ . ,, -r. .,. * ROMA] 

Camel Drivers : Be still, ac- 
cursed ones ! may you slip in the mud ! may the wrath of 
God fall on you ! " 

Sukhur {in unison) : " God ! God ! by the light of His 
Face ! " 

At dusk I went into the servants' tent and found Namrud 
whispering tales of murder over the fire on which my dinner 
was a-cooking. 

" In the days when I was a boy," said he (and they were 
not far behind us), "you could not cross the Ghor in peace. 
But I bad a mare who walked — wallah ! how she walked ! Be- 
tween sunrise and sunset she walked me from Mezerib to Salt, 
"and never broke her pace. And besides I was well known to 
all the Ghawamy (natives of the Ghor). And one night in 



42 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

summer I had to go to Jerusalem — force upon me ! I must 
ride. The waters of Jordan were low, and I crossed at 
the ford, for there was no bridge then. And as I reached the 
further bank I heard shouts and the snap of bullets. And I 
hid in the tamarisk bushes more than an hour till the moon 
was low, and then I rode forth softly. And at the entrance 
of the mud hills the mare started from the path, and I looked 
down and saw the body of a man, naked and covered with 
knife wounds. And he was quite dead. And as I gazed they 
sprang out on me from the mud hills, ten horsemen and I was 
but one. And I backed against the thicket' and fired twice with 
my pistol, but they surrounded me and threw me from the 
mare and bound me, and setting me again upon the mare they 
led me away. And when they came to the halting place 
they fell to discussing whether they should kill me, and one 
said : ' Wallah ! let us make an end.' And he came near 
and looked into my face, and it was dawn. And he said : * It 
is Namrud ! * for he knew me, and I had succoured him. And 
they imbound me and let me go, and I rode up to Jerusalem." 

The muleteers and I listened with breathless interest as 
one story succeeded another. 

" There are good customs and bad among the Arabs," said 
Namrud, " but the good are many. Now when they wish 
to bring a blood feud to an end, the two enemies come to- 
gether in the tent of him who was offended. And the lord 
of the tent bares his sword and turns to the south and draws 
a circle on the floor, calling upon God. Then he takes a 
shred of the cloth of the tent and a handful of ashes from 
the hearth and throws them in the circle, and seven times 
he strikes the line with his naked sword. And the offender 
leaps into the circle, and one of the relatives of his enemy 
cries aloud : ' I take the murder that he did upon me ! * 
Then there is peace. Oh lady ! the women have much power 
in the tribe, and the maidens are well looked on. For if a 
maiden says : * I would have such an one for my husband,* 
he must marry her lest she should be put to shame. And if 
he has already four wives let him divorce one, and marry in 
her place the maiden who has chosen him. Such is the custom 
among the Arabs." 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 43 

He turned to my Druze muleteer and continued : 

** Oh Muhammad ! have a care. The tents of the Sukhur 
are near, and there is never any peace between the Beni Sakhr 
and the Druzes. And if they knew you, they would cer- 
tainly kill you — not only would they kill you, but they would 
bum you sdive, and the lady could not shield you, nor could I." 

This was a grim light upon the character of my friend 
Nahar, who had exchanged with me hospitality against a 
kerchief, and the little group round the fire was somewhat 
taken back. But Mikhail was equal to the occasion. 

" Let not your Excellency think it," said he, deftly dish- 
ing up some stewed vegetables ; " he shall be a Christian till 
we reach the Jebel Druze, and his name is not Muhammad 
but Tarif, for that is a name the Christians use." 

So we converted and baptized the astonished Muhammad 
before the cutlets could be taken out of the frying-pan. 



CHAPTER III 

The morning of Sunday, the 12th of February, was still stormy, 
but I resolved to go. The days spent at Tneib had not been 
wasted. An opportunity of watching hour by hour the life of 
one of these outlying farms comes seldom, but my thoughts had 
travelled forward, and I longed to follow the path they had 
taken. I caught them up, so it seemed to me, when Gablan, 
Namrud and I heard the hoofs of our mares ring on the metals 
of the Haj] railway and set our faces towards the open desert. 
We rode east by north, leaving Mshitta a little to the south, 
and though no one who knew it in its loveliness could have 
borne to revisit those ravished walls, it must be not forgotten 
that there is something to be said for the act of vandalism 
that stripped them. If there had been good prospect that 
the ruin should stand as it had stood for over a thousand 
years, uninjured save by the winter rains, it ought to have 
been allowed to remain intact in the rolling country to which it 
gave so strange an impress of delicate and fantastic beauty ; 
but the railway has come near, the plains will fill up, and 
neither Syrian fellah nor Turkish soldier can be induced to 
spare walls that can be turned to practical uses. Therefore 
let those who saw it when it yet stood unimpaired, cherish its 
memory with gratitude, and without too deep a regret. 

Namrud and Gablan chatted without a pause. Late in the 
previous night two soldiers had presented themselves at the 
door of the cave, and having gained admittance they had told 
a strange tale. They had formed part, so they affirmed, of 
the troops that the Sultan had despatched from Baghdad to 
help Ibn er Rashid against Ibn Sa'oud. They related how 
the latter had driven them back step by step to the very 
gates of Hail, Ibn er Rashid's capital, and how as the two 
armies lay facing one anothher Ibn Sa'oud with a few followers 



f I 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 47 

had ridden up to his enemy's tent and laid his hand upon 
the tent pole so that the prince of the Shammar had no choice 
but to let him enter. And then and there they had come 
to an agreement, Ibn er Rashid relinquishing all his territory 
to within a mile or two of Hail, but retaining that city and the 



lands to the north of it, including Jof, and recognising Ibn 
Sa'oud's sovereignty over Riad and its extended fief. The 
two soldiers had made the best of their way westward across 
the desert, for they said most of their companions in arms 
were slain and the rest had fled. This was by far the most 
authentic news that I was to receive from Nejd, and I have 
reason to believe that it was substantially correct-* I ques- 
tioned many of the Arabs as to Ibn er Rashid's character ; 

" Since the events above recorded, Ibn Sa'ood has, I believe, come 
to terms with the Sultan after a vain appeal to a stronger aUy, and 
Ibn er Rashid is reported to be struggling to turn out the Turkish 
garrisons which were appointed nominally to aid him. Quite recently 
there haa t>eea a rumour that Ibn er Rashid is dead. 



48 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the answer was almost invariably the same. " Sh5tir jiddan," 
they would say ; "he is very shrewd," but after a moment 
they would add, "majnun" ("but mad"). A reckless man 
and a hot-headed, so I read him, with a restless intelligence 
and little judgment, not strong enough, and perhaps not cruel 
enough, to enforce his authority over the unruly tribes whom 
his uncle, Muhammad, held in a leash of fear (the history of 
the war has been one long series of betrayals on the part of his 

' ' ' '} 



own allies), and too proud, if the desert judges him rightly, to 
accept the terms of the existing peace. He is persuaded that 
the English government armed Ibn Sa'oud against him, his 
reason being that it was the Sheikh of Kweit, believed to be 
our ally, who furnished that homeless exile with the means of 
re-establishing himself in the country his ancestors had ruled, 
hoping thereby to weaken the influence of the Sultan on the 
borders of Kweit. The beginning of the trouble was possibly 
the friendship with the Sultan into which Ibn er Rashid saw 
fit to enter, a friendship blazoned to the worid by the appear- 
ance of Shammari mares in Constantinople and Circassian 
girls in Hail ; but as for the end, there is no end to war in the 
desert, and any grievance will serve the turn of an impetuous 
young sheikh. 

Though we were riding through plains which were quite 
deserted and to the casual observer almost featureless, we 
«ldom travelled for more than a mile without reachine a sdo* 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 49 

that had a name. In listening to Arab talk you are struck 
by this abundant nomenclature. If you ask where a certain 
sheikh has pitched his tents you will at once be given an exact 
answer. The map is blank, and when you reach the encamp- 
ment the landscape is blank also. A rise in the ground, a 
big stone, a vestige of ruin, not to speak of every possible 
hollow in which there may be water either in winter or in 



summer, these are marks sufficiently distinguishing to the 
nomad eye. Ride with an Arab and you shall realise why 
the pre-Mohammadan poems are so full of names, and also 
how vain a labour it would be to attempt to assign a definite 
spot to the greater number of them, for the same name recurs 
hundreds of times. We presently came to a little mound 
which Gablan called Thelelet el Hirsheh and then to another 
rather smaller called Theleleh, and here Gablan drew rein and 
pointed to a couple of fire-blackened stones upon the 
ground. ' 

" That," said he, " was my hearth. Here I camped five 
years ago. Yonder was my father's tent, and the son of my 
uncle pitched his below the slope" 

I might have been riding with Imr ul Kais, or with any of 
the great singers of the Age of Ignorance, whose odes take 



50 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

swinging flight lifted on just such a theme, the changeless 
theme of the evanescence of desert existence. 

The clouds broke in rain upon us, and we left Theleleh and 
paced on east — an Arab when he travels seldom goes quicker 
than a walk — ^while Namrud, according to his habit, beguiled 
the way with story telling. 

" Oh lady," said he, " I will tell you a tale well known 
among the Arabs, without doubt Gablan has heard it. There 
was a man — -lie is dead now, but his sons still live — ^who had a 
blood feud, and in the night his enemy fell upon him with many 
horsemen, and they drove away his flocks and his camels and 
his mares and seized his tents and all that he had. And he 
who had been a rich man and much honoured was reduced 
to the extreme of necessity. So he wandered forth till he 
came to the tents of a tribe that was neither the friend nor 
the foe of his people, and he went to the sheikh's tent and laid 
his hand on the tent pole and said : * Oh sheikh ! I am your 
guest ' " (* Ana dakhilak,' the phrase of one who seeks for hos- 
pitality and protection)." And the sheikh rose and led him 
in and seated him by the hearth, and treated him with kind- 
ness. And he gave him sheep and a few camels and cloth for a 
tent, and the man went away and prospered so that in ten years 
he was again as rich as before. Now after ten years it hap- 
pened that misfortune fell upon the sheikh who had been his 
host, and He in turn lost all that he possessed. And the sheikh 
said : * I will go to the tents of so-and-so, who is now rich, and 
he will treat me as I treated him.' Now when he reached the 
tents the man was away, but his son was within. And the 
sheikh laid his hand on the tent pole, and said, * Ana dakhilak,' 
and the man's son answered : * I do not know you, but since 
you claim our protection come in and my mother will make 
you coffee.' So the sheikh came in, and the woman called 
him to her hearth and made him coffee, and it is an indignity 
among the Arabs that the coffee should be made by the women. 
And while he was sitting by the women's hearth, the lord 
of the tent returned, and his son went out and told him that 
the sheikh had come. And he said : ' We will keep him for 
the night since he is our guest, and at dawn we will send him 
Away lest we should draw his feud upon ourselves.' And 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



51 



they put the sheikh in a comer of the tent and gave him only 
bread and coffee, and next day they bade him go. And they 
sent an escort of two horsemen with him for a day's journey, 
as is the usage among the Arabs with one who has sought 
their protection and goes in fear of his life, and then they left 
him to starve or to fall among 
his enemies. But such in- 
gratitude is rare, praise be to 
God ! and therefore the tale 
is not forgotten." 

We were now nearing some 
slopes that might almost be 
dignified with the name of 
hills. They formed a great 
semicircle that stretched away 
to the south and in the hollow 
of their arm Fellah ul 'Isa had 
pitched his tents. The Da'ja, 
when I was with them, occu- 
pied all the plam below the 
amphitheatre of the Jebel el 
'Alya and also the country to 
the north-west between the 
hills and the river Zerka 
Mujemir, the young sheikh, 
was camped to the north, his - 
two uncles. Fellah ul 'Isa and . , 

Hamud, the father of Gablan, '°"*'* '"' "* *" "'"''^ 

together in the plain to the south. I did not happen to see 
Hamud ; he had ridden away to visit some of his herds. Gablan 
put his horse to a canter and went on ahead to announce our 
arrival. As we rode up to the big sheikh's tent a white- 
haired man came out to welcome us. This was my host, 
Fellah ul 'Isa, a sheikh renowned throughout the Belka for 
his wisdom and possessed of an authority beyond that which 
an old man of a ruling house exercises over his own tribe. 
Six months before he had been an honoured guest among the 
Druzes,who are not used to receiving Arab sheikhs on terms of 
friendship, and for this reason Nsimrud had selected him as the 



52 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

best of counsellors in the matter of my journey. We were ' 
obliged to sit in his tent till coffee had been made, which 
ceremony occupied a full hour. It was conducted in a dig- 
nified silence, broken only by the sound of the pestle crushing 
the beans in the mortar, a music dear to desert ears and not 
easy of accomplished execution. By the time coffee drinking 
was over the sun had come out and with Gablan and Namrud 
I rode up the hills north of the camp to inspect some ruins 
reported by the Arabs. 

The Jebel el 'Alya proved to be a rolling upland that 
extended for many miles, sloping gradually away to the north 
and north-east. The general trend of the range is from 
west to south-east ; it rises abruptly out of the plains and 
carries upon its crest a series of ruins out of which I saw two. 
They seem to have been a line of forts guarding a frontier that, 
in the absence of inscriptions, may be conjectured to have 
been Ghassanid. The first of the ruined sites lay immediately 
above Fellah ul 'Isa's camp — I surmise it to have been the 
Kasr el Ahla (a name unknown to the Da'ja) marked on the 
Palestine Exploration map close to the Hajj road. If this 
be so, it lies four or five miles further east than the map 
makers have placed it, and its name should be written Kasr el 
'Alya. It was a small tell, ringed round with the foundations 
of walls that enclosed an indistinguishable mass of ruins. 
We rode forward some three or four miles to the east, and at 
the head of a shallow valley on the northern side of the Jebel 
el 'Alya we found a large tank, about 120 feet by 150 feet, care- 
fully built of dressed stones and half full of earth. Above 
it, nearer the top of the hill, there was a group of ruins called 
by the Arabs El Muwaggar.* It must have been a mili- 
tary post, for there seemed to be few remains of small 
dweUings such as would point to the existence of a town. To 
the east lay a building that the Arabs maintain to have been 
a stable. It was planned like a church, in three parallel cham- 
bers, the nave being divided from the aisles by arcades of 
which six arches on either side were standing, round arches 

* El Muwakkar it is written, but the Eedouin change the hard k 
into a hard g. The site has been described in "Die Provincia 
Arabia," vol ii. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 53 

resting on piers of masonry. On the inner sides of these 
piers were holes through which to fasten tethering ropes, and 
possibly horses may at some period have been stabled between 
the arches. The three chambers were roofed with barrel 
vaults, and wall and vault alike were built of small stones set 
in brittle, crumbling mortar. A few hundred yards to the 



r MUWACGAR 

north west there was a big open cistern, empty ot water, with 
plastered sides and a flight of steps at one comer. The largest 
ruin was still further to the north-west, almost li the summit 
of the hill ; it is called by the Arabs the Kasr, and was probably 
a fortress or barracks. The main entrance was 10 tiie cast, 
and since the ground sloped away here, the /agade was sup- 
ported on a substructure of eight vaults, above which were 
traces of three, or perhaps four, doorways that could only have 
been approached by flights of steps. Moulded piers had stood 
on either side of the doorways — a few were still in their places 
— and the /afdi/e had been enriched with columns and a c 



54 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of which the fragments were strewn over the ground below 
together with capitals of various designs, all of them drawn 
from a Corinthian prototype, though many were widely dis- 
similar from the parent pattern. Some of the mouldings 
showed very simple rinceaax, a trefoil set in the alternate 
curves of a flowing stalk, others were torus-shaped and covered 
with the scales of the palm trunk pattern. The width of the 
facade was forty paces ; behind it was an ante-chamber 

separated by a 
cross wall from 
a square enclo- 
sure. Whether 
there had been 
rooms round 
the inside of 
this enclosure I 
could not deter- 
mine ; it was 
heaped up with 
ruins and over- 
grown with turf. 
On either side 

A CAPITAL AT MDWAClf-AR t lU ■ Ui 

of the eight 
parallel vaults there was another vaulted chamber form- 
ing ten in all ; but the two supplementary vaults did 
not appear to have supported a superstructure of any 
kind, the massive side walls of the ante-chamber resting 
on the outer walls of the eight central vaults. The 
masonry was of squared stones with rubble between, set 
in mortar. 

We rode back straight down the hill and so along the 
plain at its foot, passing another ruined site as we went, 
Najereh was its name. Such heaped up mounds of cut stones 
the Arabs call " rujm " ; it would be curious to know how far 
east they are to be found, how far the desert was inhabited 
by a permanent population. A day's journey from 'Alya, 
said Gablan, there is another fort called Kharaneh, and a 
third not far from it, Umm er Resas, and more besides, some 
of tbem with pictures, and all easy to visit in the winter when 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 55 

the western pasturages are comparatively empty.* As we 

rode he taught me to read the desert, to mark the hollow 

squares of big stones laid for the beds of Arab boys, and the 

semi-circular nests in the earth that the mother camels scoop 

out for their young. He taught me also the names of the 

plants that dotted the ground, and I found that though the 

flora of the desert is scanty in quantity, it is of many varieties, 

and that almost every kind has been put to some useful end 

by the Arabs. With the 

leaf of the utrufan they 

scent their butter, from 

the prickly kursa'aneh 

they make an excellent 

salad, on the dry sticks 

of the billan the camels 

feed, and the sheep on 

those of the shih, the 

ashes of the g3li are 

used in soap ' boiling. 

The role of teacher -- '-. 

amused Gablan, and as 



wc passed from one 
prickly blue-grey tuft to another equally blue-grey and 
prickly, he would say : " Oh lady, what is this ? " and 
smile cheerfully if the answer came right. 

I was to dine that night in Fellah ul 'Isa's tent, and when 
the last bar of red light still lay across the west Gablin came 
to fetch me. The little encampment was already alive with 
all the combination of noises that animates the desert after 
darkt the grunting and groaning of camels, the bleating of 
sheep and goats and the uninterrupted barking of dogs. 
There was no light in the sheikh's tent save that of the fire ; 
my host sitting opposite me was sometimes hidden in a 
column of pungent smoke and sometimes illumined by a 
leaping flame. When a person of consideration comes as 
guest, a sheep must be killed in honour of the occasion, and 
accordmglywe eat with our fingers a bountiful meal of mutton 

* Several of these ruins were visited by Musil, but his book is not 
yot published. 



56 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and curds and flaps of bread. But even on feast nights the 
Arab eats astonishingly little, much less than a European 
woman with a good appetite, and when there is no guest in 
camp, bread and a bowl of camel's milk is all they need. 
It is true they spend most of the day asleep or gossiping in 
the sun, yet I have seen the 'Agel making a four months' 
march on no more generous fare. Though they can go on 
such short commons, the Bedouin must seldom be without 
the sensation of hunger ; they are always lean and thin, and 
any sickness that falls upon the tribe carries off a large pro- 
portion of its numbers. My servants feasted too, and since 
we had left Muhammad, or rather Tarif the Christian, to 
guard the tents in our absence, a wooden bowl was piled 
with food and sent out into the night " for the guest who has 
remained behind." 

Fellah ul 'Isa and Namrud fell into an interesting dis- 
cussion over the coffee, one that threw much light on the 
position of the tribes of the Belka. They are hard pressed 
by encroaching civilisation. Their summer quarters are 
gradually being filled up with fellahin, and still worse, their 
summer watering places are now occupied by Circassian 
colonists settled by the Sultan in eastern Syria when the 
Russians turned them out of house and home in the Caucasus. 
The Circassians are a disagreeable people, morose and quarrel- 
some, but industrious and enterprising beyond measure, 
and in their daily contests with the Arabs they invariably 
come off victors. Recently they have made the drawing of 
water from the Zerka, on which the Bedouin are dependent 
during the summer, a casus belli, and it is becoming more and 
more impossible to go down to 'Amman, the Circassian head- 
quarters, for the few necessities of Arab life, such as coffee 
and sugar and tobacco. Namrud was of opinion that the 
Belka tribes should have asked the Government to appoint 
a Kaimakam over their district to protect their interests; 
but Fellah ul 'Isa hesitated to call in King Stork, fearing the 
military service he might impose, the enforced registration 
of cattle and other hateful practices. The truth is that the 
days of the Belka Arabs are numbered. To judge by the ruins, 
it will be possible, as it was possible in past centuries, to 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 57 

establish a fixed population all over their territory, and they 
will have to choose between themselves building villages and 
cultivating the ground or retreating to the east where water is 
almost unobtainable in the summer, and the heat far greater 
than they care to face. 

Namrud turned from these vexed questions to extol the 
English rule in Egypt. He had never been there, but he had 
heard tales from one of his cousins who was a clerk in Alex- 
andria ; he knew that the fellahin had grown rich and that 
the desert was as 
peaceful as were 
the cities. 

" Blood feud 
has ceased," said 
he, " and raid- 
ing; for when a 
man steals an- 
other's camels, 
look you what 
happens. The 
owner of the 
camels comes to 
the nearest konak and lays his complaint, and a zaptieh 
rides out alone through the desert till he reaches the robber's 
tent. Then he throws the salaam and enters. What does 
the lord of the tent do ? he makes coffee and tries to 
treat the zaptieh as a guest. But when the soldier has 
drunk the coffee he places money by the hearth, saying, 
' Take this piastre,* and so he pays for all he eats and 
drinks and accepts nothing. And in the morning he de- 
parts, leaving orders that in so many daj's the camels must 
be at the konak. Then the robber, being afraid, gathers 
together the camels and sends them in, and one, may be, 
is missing, so that the number is short. And the judge says to 
the lord of the camels, ' Are all the beasts here ? ' and 
he replies, ' There is one missing.' And he says, ' Wliat 
is its value ? ' and he answers, ' Eight liras.' Then the 
judge says to the other, ' Pay him eight liras.' Wallah ! he 
pays." 



58 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Fellah ul 'Isa expressed no direct approval of the advan- 
tages of this system, but he listened with interest while I ex- 
plained the principles of the Fellahin Bank, as far as I under- 
stood them, and at the end he asked whether Lord Cromer 
could not be induced to extend his rule to Syria, an invitation 
that I would not undertake to accept in his name. Five years 
before, in the Hauran mountains, a similar question had been 
put to me, and the answering of it had taxed my diplomacy. 
The Druze sheikhs of Kanawat had assembled in my tent 
under shadow of night, and after much cautious beating about 
the bush and many assurances from me that no one was 
listening, they had asked whether if the Turks again broke 
their treaties with the Mountain, the Druzes might take refuge 
with Lord Cromer in Egypt, and whether I would not charge 
myself with a message to him. I replied with the air of one 
weighing the proposition in all its aspects that the Druzes 
were people of the hill country, and that Egypt was a plain, 
and would therefore scarcely suit them. The Sheikh el Balad 
looked at the Sheikh ed Din, and the horrible vision of a land 
without mountain fastnesses in which to take refuge, or 
moimtain paths easy to defend, must have opened before their 
eyes, for they replied that the matter required much thought, 
and I heard no more of it. Nevertheless the moral is obvious : 
all over Syria and even in the desert, whenever a man is ground 
down by injustice or mastered by his own incompetence, he 
wishes that he were imder the rule that has given wealth to 
Egypt, and our occupation of that country, which did so much 
at first to alienate from us the sympathies of Mohammedans, 
has proved the finest advertisement of English methods of 
government.* 

* The present unrest in Egypt may seem to throw a doubt upon 
the truth of these observations, but I do not believe this to be the 
case. The Eg5rptiaiis have forgotten the miseries from which our ad- 
ministration rescued them, the Syrians and the people of the desert 
are still labouring under them, and in their eyes the position of theii 
neighbours is one of unalloyed and enviable ease. But when once the 
wolf is driven from the door, the restraints imposed by an immutable 
law eat into the temper of a restless, unstable population accustomed 
to reckon with misrule and to profit by the frequent laxity and the 
occasional opportunities of undeserved advancement which charac- 
terise it. Justice is a capital thing when it guards your legal righti» 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 59 

As I sat listening to the talk round me and looking out 
into the starlit night, my mind went back to the train of 
thought that had been the groundwork of the whole day, the 
theme that Gablan had started when he, stopped and pointed 
out the traces of his former encampment, and I said ; 

"In the ages before the 
Prophet your fathers spoke as 
you do and in the same lan- 
guE^e, but we " who do not 
know your wajre have lost the 
meaning of the words they 
used. Now tell me what is 
so-and-so, and so-and-so ? " 

The men round the fire 
bent forward, and when a 
flame jumped up I saw their 
dark faces as they listened, 
and answered : 

" By God ! did they say 
thai before the Prophet ? " 

" MSsha'llah ! we use that 
word still. It is the mark on 
the ground where the tent was 
pitched." 

Thus encouraged I quoted 
the couplet of Imr ul Kais 

which Gablan's utterance had ^^^^j„ „„ „^„(,„ ^„ „^,j^ 
suggested. 

" Stay I let us weep the memory of the Beloved and her 
resting-place in the cleft of the shifting sands 'twixt ed Dujel 
and Haumal." 

Gablin, by the tent pole, lifted his head and exclaimed : 
" M3sha'llah I that is 'Ajitara." 

All poetry is ascribed to 'Antara by the imlettered Arab ; 
he knows no other name in literature. 

I answered : " No ; 'Antara spoke otherwise. He said : 
* Have the poets aforetime left ought to be added by me ? 
but most damnable when you wish to usurp the rights of others. 
FeUa^ al '!» and his Icimd would not be slow to discover its detects. 



6o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

or dost thou remember her house when thou lookest on the 
place ? ' And Lebid spoke best of all when he said : ' And 
what is man but a tent and the folk thereof ? one day 
they depart and the place is left desolate.' " 

Gablan made a gesture of assent. 

" By God ! " said he, " the plain is covered with places 
wherein I rested." 

He had struck the note. I looked out beyond him into the 
night and saw the desert with his eyes, no longer empty but set 
thicker with human associations than any city. Every line of it 
took on significance, every stone was Uke the ghost of a hearth in 
which the warmth of Arab life was hardly cold, though the fire 
might have been extinguished this hundred years. It was a 
city of shadowy outlines visible one under the other, fleeting 
and changing, combining into new shapes elements that are 
as old as Time, the new indistinguishable from the old and the 
old from the new. 

There is no name for it. The Arabs do not speak of desert 
or wilderness as we do. Why should they? To them it is 
neither desert nor wilderness, but a land of which they know 
every feature, a mother country whose smallest product has a 
use sufficient for their needs. They know, or at least they 
knew in the days when their thoughts shaped themselves in 
deathless verse, how to rejoice in the great spaces and how to 
honour the rush of the storm. In many a couplet they ex- 
tolled the beauty of the watered spots ; they sang of the fly 
that hummed there, as a man made glad with wine croons 
melodies for his sole ears to hear, and of the pools of rain that 
shone like silver pieces, or gleamed dark as the warrior's mail 
when the wind ruffled them. They had watched, as they 
crossed the barren watercourses, the laggard wonders of the 
night, when the stars seemed chained to the sky as though 
the dawn would never come. Imr ul Kais had seen the 
Pleiades caught like jewels in the net of a girdle, and with the 
wolf that howled in the dark he had claimed fellowship : 
*' Thou and I are of one kindred, and, lo, the furrow that thou 
ploughest and that I plough shall yield one harvest." But 
by night or by day there was no overmastering terror, no 
meaningless fear and no enemy that could not be vanquished. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 6i 

They did not cry for help, those poets of the Ignorance, either 
to man or God ; but when danger fell upon them they remem- 
bered the maker of their sword, the lineage of their horse and 
the prowess of their tribe, and their own right hand was enough 
to carry them through. And then they gloried as men should . 
glory whose blood flows hot in their veins, and gave no thanks 
where none were due. 

This is the temper of verse as splendid of its kind as any 
that has fallen from 
the lips of men. 
Every string of Arab 
experience is touched 
in turn, and the 
deepest chords of 
feeling are resonant. 
There are no finer 
lines than those in 
which Lebidsumsup 
his appreciation of 
existence, a poem 

, .1 O" THE HAJJ ROAD 

where each one ot 

the fourteen couplets is instinct with a grave and tragic 
dignity beyond all praise, He looks sorrow in the face, old age 
and death, and ends with a solemn admission of the limitations 
of human wisdom : " By thy hfe ! the casters of pebbles and 
the watchers of the flight of birds, how know they what God is 
doing ? " The voice of warning is never the voice of dismay. 
It recurs often enough, but it does not check the wild daring 
of the singer. "Death is no chooser ! " cries Tarafa, "the 
miser or the free-handed, Death has his rope round the swift 
flying heel of him ! " But he adds : " What dost thou 
fear ? To-day is thy life." And as fearlessly Zuhair sets 
forth his experience : " To-day I know and yesterday 
and the days that were, but for to-morrow mine eyes are 
sightless. For I have seen Doom let out in the dark like a 
blind camel ; those it struck died and those it missed lived 
to grow old." The breath of inspiration touched all alike, 
old and young, men and women, and among the most 
exquisite remnants of the desert heritage is a dirge sung 



62 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

by a sister for her dead brother, which is no less valuable as a 
historical document than it is admirable in sentiment. An 
Nadr Ibn el Harith was taken prisoner by Muhammad at 
Uthail, after the battle of Bedr, and by his order put to death, 
and through the verses of Kutaila you catch the revolt of 
feeling with which the Prophet's pretensions were greeted by 
those of his contemporaries who would not submit to them, 
coupled with the necessary respect due to a man whose race 
was as good as their own. " Oh camel rider I " she cries, 

" Oh camel rider 1 Uthail, methinks, if thou speedest well, 

shall lie before thee when breaks the fifth Dawn o'er thy road. 
Take thou a word to a dead man there — and a greeting, sure, 

but meet it is that the riders bring from friends afar — 
From me to him, yea and tears unstanched, in a flood they flow 

when he phes the well rope, and others choke me that stay 
behind. 
Raise clear thy voice that an Nadr may hear if thou call on him — 

can a dead man hear ? Can he answer any that shouts his name ? 
Day long the swords of his father's sons on his body played — 

Ah God ! the bonds of a brother's blood that were severed there ! 
Helpless, a-weary, to death they led him, with fight foredone ; 

short steps he takes with his fettered feet and his arms are bound. 
Oh Muhammad ! sprung from a mother thou of a noble house, 

and thy father too was of goodly stock when the kin is told. 
Had it cost thee dear to have granted grace that day to him ? 

yea, a man may pardon though anger bum in his bosom sore. 
And the nearest he in the ties of kinship of all to thee, 

and the fittest he, if thou loosedst any to be set free. 
Ah, hadst thou taken a ransom, sure with the best of all 

that my hand possessed I had paid thee, spending my utmost 
store." 

And on yet stronger wing the wild free spirit of the desert 
rose in his breast who lay in ward at Mecca, and he sang of 
love and death with a voice that will not be silenced : 

# 

" My longing cUmbs up the steep with the riders of El Yemen, 

by their side, while my body Ues in Mecca a prisoner. 
I marvelled as she came darkling to me and entered free, 

while the prison door before me was bolted and surely barred. 
She drew near and greeted me, then she rose and bade fareweU, 

and when she turned my life well-nigh went forth with her. 
Nay, think not that I am bowed with fear away from you, 

or that I tremble before death that stands so nigh. 
Or that my soul quakes at all before your threatening, 

or that my spirit is broken by walking in these chains. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 63 

-But a longing has smitten my heart born of love for thee, 
as it was in the days aforetime when that I was free.*'* 

The agony of the captive, the imagined vision of the heart's 
desire which no prison bars could exclude, then the fine pro- 
test lest his foes should dream that his spirit faltered, and 
the strong man's fearless memory of the passion that had 
shaken his life and left his soul still ready to vanquish death 
— there are few such epitomes of noble emotion. Bom and 
bred on the soil of the desert, the singers of the Age of 
ignorance have left behind them a record of their race that 
richer and wiser nations will find hard to equal. 

* I have borrowed Sir Charles Lyall's beautiful and most scholarly 
translation of this and the preceding poem. 



CHAPTER IV 

Thehe is an Arabic proverb which says : "Hayyeh rubda wa 
la daif mudha " — neither ash-grey snake nor mid-day guest. 
We were careful not to make a breach in our Ynanners by out- 
staying our welcome, and our camp was up before the sun. 
lo wake in that desert dawn was like waking in the heart of 
an opal. The mists lifting their heads out of the hollows, the 
dews floating in ghostly wreaths from the black tents, were 
shot through first with the faint glories of the eastern sky and 
then with the strong yellow rays of the risen sun. I sent a 
silver and purple kerchief to Fellah ul 'Isa, "for the little 
son " who had played solemnly about the hearth, took grate- 
ful leave of Namrud, drank a parting cup of coffee, and, the 
old sheikh holding my stirrup, mounted and rode away with 
Gablan. We climbed the Jebel el 'Alya and crossed the wide 
summit of the range ; the landscape was akin to that of our 
own English border country but bigger, the sweeping curves 
more generous, the distances further away. The glorious 
cold air intoxicated every sense and set the blood throbbing 
— to my mind the saying about the Bay of Naples should 
run differently. See the desert on a fine morning and die 
— if you can. Even the stolid mules felt the breath of it 
and raced across the spongy ground (" Mad ! the accursed 
ones!") till their packs swung round and brought them 
down, and twice we stopped to head them off and re- 
load. The Little Heart, the highest peak of the Jebel Druze, 
surveyed us cheerfully the while, glittering in its snow 
mantle far away to the north. 

At the foot of . the northern slopes of the 'Alya hills we 
entered a great rolling plain like that which we had left to 
the south. We passed many of those mysterious rujm which 
start the fancy speculating on the past history of the land, and 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 65 

{.resently we caught sight of the scattered encampments of 
the Hassaniyyeh, who are good friends to the Da'ja and belong 
to the same group of tribes. And here we spied two riders 
coming across the plain and Gablan went out to greet them 
and remained some time, in talk, and then returned with a 
grave face. The dr-iy before, the very day before," while we 
had been journeying peacefullj' from Tneib, four hundred horse- 
men of the Sukhur and the Howeitat, leagued in evil, had 
swept these plains, 
surprised an outlying 
group of the Beni 
Hassan and carried 
off the tents, to- 
gether with two 
thousand head of 
cattle. It was al- 
most a pity, J 
thought, that we 
had come a day too 
late, but Gablan 
looked graver still 
at the suggestion, 

and said that he arabs ridcno mardiIi' 

would have been forced to join in the fray, yes, he 
would even have left me, though I had been committed 
to his charge, for the Da'ja were bound to help the Beni 
Hassan against the Sukhur. And perhaps yesterday's 
work would be enough to break the new-born truce be- 
tween that powerful tribe and the allies of the 'Anazeh 
and set the whole desert at war again. There was sorrow in 
the tents of the Children of Hassan, We saw a man weeping 
by the tent pole, with his head bowed in his hands, everything 
he possessed having been swept from hin: As we rode we 
talked much of ghazu (raid) and the riles that govern it. 
The fortunes of the Arab are as varied ci those of a gambler 
on the Stock Exchange. One day he is the richest man in 
the desert, and next morning he may not have a single camel 
foal to his name. He lives in a state of war, and even if the 
surest pledges have beea exchanged with the neighbouring 



66 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

tribes there is no certainty that a band of raiders from hun- 
dreds of miles away will not descend on his camp in the night, 
as a tribe unknown to Syria, the BeniAwajeh, fell, two years 
ago, on the lands south-east of Aleppo, crossing three hundred 
miles of desert, Marduf (tw6 on a camel) from their seat above 
Baghdad, carrying off all the cattle and killing scores of 
people. How many thousand years this state of things has 
lasted, those who shall read the earliest records of the inner 
desert will tell us, for it goes back to the first of them, but 
in all the centuries the Arab has bought no wisdom from 
experience. He is never safe, and yet he behaves as though 
security were his daily bread. He pitches his feeble little 
camps, ten or fifteen tents together, over a wide stretch of 
undefended and indefensible country. He is too far from 
his fellows to call in their aid, too far as a rule to gather the 
horsemen together and follow after the raiders whose retreat 
must be sufficiently slow, burdened with the captured flocks, 
to guarantee success to a swift pursuit. Having lost all his 
worldly goods, he goes about the desert and makes his plaint, 
and one man gives him a strip or two of goats' hair cloth, and 
another a coffee-pot, a third presents him with a camel, and 
a fourth with a few sheep, till he has a roof to cover him and 
enough animals to keep his family from hunger. There are 
good customs among the Arabs, as Namrud said. So he 
bides his time for months, perhaps for years, till at length 
opportunity ripens, and the horsemen of his tribe with their 
allies ride forth and recapture all the flocks that had been 
carried off and more besides, and the feud enters on another 
phase. The truth is that the ghazu is the only industry the 
desert knows and the only game. As an industry it seems 
to the commercial mind to be based on a false conception 
of the laws of supply and demand, but as a game there is 
niuch to be said for it. The spirit of adventure finds full 
scope in it — you can picture the excitement of the night ride 
across the plain, the rush of the mares in the attack, the 
glorious (and comparatively innocuous) popping of rifles 
and the exhilaration of knowing yourself a fine lellow as you 
turn homewards with the spoil. It is the best sort of fan- 
tasia, as they say in the desert, with a spice of danger behind 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 67 

it. Not that the danger is alarmingly great : a considerable 
amount of amusement can be got without much bloodshed, 
and the '■■aiding Arab is seldom bent on killing. He never 
lifts his hand against women and children, and if here and 
there a man falls it is almost by accident, since who can be 
sure of the ultimate destination of a rifle bullet once it is 
embarked on its lawless course ? This is the Arab view of 
the ghazu ; the Druzes look at it otherwise. For them it is 
red war. They do not play the game as it should be plaved, 
they go out to slay, 
and they spare no 
one. While they 
have a grain of pow- 
der in their flasks and 
strength to pull the 
trigger, they kill 
every man, woman 
and child that they 
encounter. 

Knowing the inde- 
pendence of Arab * tbavellino encampment of the 'arEl 
women and the freedom with which marriages are contracted 
between different tribes of equal birth, I saw many romantic 
possibilities of mingled love and hatred between the Montagues 
and the Capulets. " Lo, on a sudden I loved her," says 
'Antara, "though! had slain her kin." Gablan replied that 
these difficult situations did indeed occur, and ended some- 
times in a tragedy, but if the lovers would be content to wait, 
some compromise could be arrived at, or they might be able 
to marry during one of the brief but oft-recurring intervals of 
truce. The real danger begins when blood feud is started 
within the tribe itself and a man having murdered one of 
his own people is cast out a homeless, kinless exile to shelter 
with strangers or with foes. Such was Imr ul Kais, the lonely 
outlaw, crying to the night : " Oh long night, wilt thou not 
bring the dawn ? yet the day is no better than thou," 

A few miles further north the Hassaniyyeh encampments 

. had not yet heard cf yesterday's misfortune, and we had the 

pleasure of spreading the ill-news. Gablan rode up to every 



68 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

group we passed and delivered his mind of its burden ; the 
men in buckram multiplied as we went, and perhaps I had 
been wrong in aoceptlng the four hundred of the original 
statement, for they had had plenty of time to breed during 
the twenty-four hours that had elapsed between their depar- 
ture and our arrival. All the tents were occupied with pre- 
parations not for war but for feasting. On the morrow fell 



the great festival of the Mohammedan year, the Feast of 
Sacrifice, when the pilgrims in Mecca slaughter their offerings 
and True Believers at home follow their example. By every 
tent there was a huge pile of thorns wherewith to roast the 
camel or sheep next day, and the shirts of the tribe were 
spread out to dry in the sun after a washing which, I have 
reason to believe, takes place but once a year. Towards 
sunset we reached a big encampment of the Beni Hassan, 
where Gablan decided to spend the night. There was water 
in a muddy pool near at hand and a good site for our tents 
above the hollow in which the Arabs lay. None of the great 
sheikhs were camped there and, mindful of Namrud's warnings, 
I refused all invitations and spent the evening at home, watch- 
ing the sunset and the kindling of the cooking fires and the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 69 

blue smoke that floated away into the twilight. The sacri- 
ficial camel, in gorgeous trappings, grazed among my mules, 
and after dark the festival was heralded by a prolonged letting 
off of rifles. GabUn sat silent by the camp fire, his thoughts 
busy with the merrymakings that were on foot at home. 
It went sorely against the grain that he should be absent on 
such a day. " How many horsemen," said he, " will aligiit 



to-morrow at my father's tent ! and I shall not be there to 
welcome them or to wish a good feast day to my little son ! " 
We were off before the rejoicings had begun. I had no 
desire to assist at the last moments of the camel, and moreover 
we had a long day before us through country that was not 
particularly safe. As far as my caravan was concerned, tiie 
risk was small- I had a letter in my pocket from Fellah 
ul 'Isa to Nasib cl Atrash, the Sheikh of Salkhad in the Jebel 
Druze. " To the renowned and honoured sheikh, Nasib el 
Atrash," it ran (I had heard my host dictate it to NamrCd 
and seen him seal it with his seal), "the venerated, may (iod 
prolong his existence ! We send you greetings, to j'on and 
to all the people of Salkhad, and to your brother Jada'llah, 
and to thfi son of your uncle Muhammad el Atrash in Umm 



70 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

er Rumman, and to our friends in Imtain. And further, 
there goes to you from us a lady of the most noble among the 
English. And we greet Muhammada and our friends. . . . 
&c., (here followed another list of names), and this is all that 
is needful, and peace be with you." . And beyond this letter 
I had the guarantee of my nationality, for the Druzes have 
not yet forgotten our interference on their behalf in i860 ; 
moreover I was acquainted with several of the sheikhs of the 
Turshan, to which powerful family Nasib belonged. But 
Gablan was in a different case, and he was fully conscious of 
the ambiguity of his position. In spite of his uncle's visit to 
the Mountain, he was not at all certain how the Druzes would 
receive him ; he was leaving the last outposts of his allies, 
and entering a border land by tradition hostile (he himself 
had no acquaintance with it but that which he had gathered 
on -raiding expeditions), and if he did not find enemies among 
the Druzes he might well fall in with a scouring party of the 
bitter foes of the Da'ja, the H^seneh or their like, who camp 
east of the hills. 

After an hour or two of travel, the character of the coun- 
try changed completely : the soft soil of the desert came to an 
end, and the volcanic rocks of the Hauran began. We rode 
for some tims up a guUey of lava, left the last of the Hassan- 
iyyeh tents in a little open space between some mounds, and 
found ourselves on the edge of a plain that stretched to the 
foot of the Jebel Druze in an unbroken expanse, completely 
deserted, almost devoid of vegetation and strewn with black 
volcanic stones It has been said that the borders of the 
desert are like a rocky shore on which the sailor who navigates 
deep waters with success may yet be wrecked when he at- 
tempts to bring his ship to port. This was the landing which 
we had to effect. Somewhere between us and the hills were 
the ruins of Umm ej Jemal, where I hoped to get into touch 
with the Druzes, but for the lite of us we could not tell where 
they lay, the plain having just sufficient rise and fall to hide 
them Now Umm ej Jemal has an evil name — I believe 
mine was the second European camp that had ever been 
pitched in it, the first having been that of a party of American 
archtneologists who left a fortnight before I arrived — and 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 73 

Gablan's evident anxiety enhanced its sinister reputation. 
Twice he turned to me and asked whether it were necessary to * 
camp there. I answered that he had undertaken to guide me 
to Umm ej Jemal, and that there was no question but that I 
should go, and the second time I backed my obstinacy by 
pointing out that we must have water that night for the 
animals, and that there was httle chance oi finding it except 



V\i\I EJ JEMAL 

In the cisterns of the ruined village. Thereupon 1 had out 
my map, and after trying to guess what point on the blank 
white paper we must have reached, I turned my caravan a 
little to the west towards a low rise from whence we should 
probably catch sight of our destination. Gablan took the 
decision in good part and expressed regret that he could not 
be of better service in directing us. He had been once in his 
life to Umm ej Jemal, but it was at dead of night when he was 
out raiding. He and his party had stopped for half an hour 
to water their horses and had passed on eastward, returning 
by another route. Yes, it had been a successful raid, 
praise be to God ! and one of the first in which he 
had engaged, Mikhail listened with indifference to our 
deliberations, the muleteers were not consulted, but as we 



74 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

set off again Hablb tucked his revolver more handily into his 
belt. 

We rode on. I was engaged in looking for the rasif, the 
paved Roman road that runs from Kal'at ez Zerka straight 
to Bosra, and also in wondering what I should do to protect 
if necessary the friend and guide whose pleasant companion- 
ship had enlivened our hours of travel and who should cer- 
tainly come to ho harm while he was with us. As we drew 
nearer to the rising ground we observed that it was crowned 
with sheepfolds, and presently we could see men gathering 
their flocks together and driving them behind the black walls, 
their hurried movements betraying their alarm. We noticed 
also some figures, whether mounted or on foot it was impossible 
to determine, advancing on us from a hollow to the left, and 
after a moment two puffs of smoke rose in front of them, and 
we heard the crack of rifles. 

Gablan turned to me with a quick gesture. 

" Darabuna ! " he said. " They have fired on us." 

I said aloud : " They are afraid," but to myself, *' We're 
in for it." 

Gablan rose in his stirrups, dragged his fur-lined cloak 
from his shoulders, wound it round his left arm and waved it 
above his head, and very slowly he and I paced forward to- 
gether. Another couple of shots were fired, and still we rode 
forward, Gablan waving his flag of truce. The firing ceased ; 
it was nothing after all but the accepted greeting to strangers, 
conducted with the customary levity of the barbarian. Our 
assailants turned out to be two Arabs, grinning from ear to 
ear, quite ready to fraternise with us as soon as they had 
decided that we were not bent on sheep stealing, and most 
willing to direct us to Umm ej Jemal. As soon as we had 
rounded the tell we saw it in front of us, its black towers 
and walls standing so boldly out of the desert that it was 
impossible to believe it had been ruined and deserted for 
thirteen hundred years. It was not till we came close that the 
rents and gashes in the tufa masonry and the breaches in the 
city wall were visible. I pushed forward and would have 
ridden straight into the heart of the town, but Gablan caught 
me up and laid his hand upon my bridle. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 75 

"I go first," he said. "Oh lady, you were commi.tted to 
my charge." 

And since he was the only person who incuired any risk 
and was well aware of the fact, his resolution did him credit. 

We clattered over the ruined wall, passed round the square 
monastery tower which is the chief feature of the Mother of 
Camels {such is 
the meaning of 
the Arabic name), 
and rode into an 
open place be- 
tween empty 
streets, and there 
was no one to 
fear and no sign 
of life save that 
offered by two 
small black tents, 
the inhabitants of 
which greeted us 
with enthusiasm, 
and proceeded to 
sell us milk and 
eggs in the most 
amicable fashion. 
The Arabs who live at the foot of Hauran mountains are 
called the Jebeliyyeh, the Arabs of the Hills, and they are 
of no consideration, being but servants and shepherds to the 
Druzes. In the winter they herd the flocks that are sent 
down into the plain, and in the summer they are allowed 
to occupy the uncultivated slopes with their own cattle. 

I spent the hour of daylight that remained in examihing 
the wonderful Nabatsean necropolis outside the walls. Mon- 
sieur Dussaud began the work on it five years ago ; Mr. 
Butler and Dr. Littmann, whose visit immediately preceded 
mine, will be found to have continued it when their next 
volumes are given to the world. Having seen what tombs 
they had uncovered and noted several mounds that must 
conceal others, I sent away my companions and wandered in 



76 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the dusk through the ruined streets of the town, into great 
rooms and up broken stairs, till Gablan came and called me 
in, saying that if a man saw something in a fur coat explor- 
ing those uncanny places after dark, he might easily take the 
apparition for a ghoul and shoot at it. Moreover, he wished 
to ask me whether he might not return to Tneib. One of the 
Arabs would guide us next day to-the first Druze village, and 
Gablan would as soon come no nearer to the Mountain. I 
agreed readily, indeed it was a relief not to have his safety 
on my conscience. He received three napoleons for his 
trouble and a warm letter of thanks to deliver to Fellah ul 
'Isa, and we parted with many assurances that if God willed 
we would travel together again. 

The stony foot of the Jebel Ham an is strewn with villages 
deserted since the Mohammedan invasion in the seventh cen- 
tury. I visited two that lay not far from my path, Shabha and 
Shabhiyyeh, and found them to be both of the same character 
as Umm ej Jemal From afar they look like well-built 
towns with square towers rising above streets of three-storied 
houses. Where the walls have fallen they lie as they fell, 
and no hand has troubled to clear away the ruins. Monsieur 
de Vogue was the first to describe the architecture of the 
Hauran ; his splendid volumes are still the principal source of 
information. The dwelling-houses are built round a court 
in which there is usually an outer stair leading to the upper 
story. There is no wood used in their construction, even the 
doors are of solid stone, turning on stone hinges, and the windows 
of stone slabs pierced with open-work patterns. Sometimes 
there are traces of a colonnaded portico, or the walls are 
broken by a double window, the arches of which are supported 
by a small column and a rough plain capital ; frequently the 
lintels of the doors are adorned with a cross or a Christian 
monogram, but otherwise there is little decoration. The 
chambers are roofed with stone slabs resting on the back of 
transverse arches. So far as can be said with any certainty, 
Nabataean inscriptions and tombs are the oldest monuments 
that have been discovered in the district ; they are followed 
by many important remains of pagan Rome, but the 
really flourishing period seems to have been the Christian. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 77 

After the Mohammadan invasion, which put an end to the 
prosperity of the Hauran uplands, few of the villages were re- 
inhabited, and when the Druzes came about a hundred and 
fifty years ago, they found no settled population. They 
made the Mountain their own, rebuilt and thereby destroyed 
the ancient towns, and extended their lordship over the plains 
to the south, though 
they have not estab- 
lished themselves in 
the villages of that 
debatable land which 
remains a happy 
hunting ground for 
thearchfeologist. The 
American expedition 
will make good use of 
the immense amount 
of material that exists 
there, and knowing 
that the work had 
been done by better 
hands than mine, I 
rolled up the measur- 
ing tape and folded 
the foot-rule. But I 

could not so far over- sibiking camp 

come a natural instinct as to cease from copying inscriptions, 
and the one or two {they were extremely few) that had escaped 
Dr. Littmann's vigilant eye and come by chance to me were 
made over to him when we met in Damascus. 

To our new guide, Fendi, fell the congenial task of posting 
me up in the gossip of the Mountain. Death had been busy 
among the great family of the Turshan during the past live 
years, t Faiz el Atrash, Sheikh of Kreyeh, was gone, poisoned 
said some, and a week or two before my arrival the most 
renowned of all the leaders of the Druzes, Shibly Beg el 
Atrash, had died of a mysterious and lingering illness — poison 
again, it was whispered. There was this war and that on 
hand, a terrible raid of the Arabs of the Wady Sirhan to be 



78 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

avenged, and a score with the Sukhur to be settled, but on the 
whole there was prosperity, and as much peace as a Druze 
would wish to enjoJ^ The conversation was interrupted 
by a little shooting at rabbits lying asleep in the sun, not a 
gentlemanly sport perhaps, but one that helped to fill and to 
diversify the pot. After a time I left the mules and Fendi to 
go their own way, and taking Mikhail with me, made a long 
circuit to visit the ruined towns. We were just finishing 
lunch under a broken wall, well separated from the rest of the 
party, when we saw two horsemen approaching us across the 
plain. We swept up the remains of the lunch and mounted 
hastily, feeling that any greeting they might accord us was 
better met in the saddle. They stopped in front of us and 
gave us the salute, following it with an abrupt question as 
to where we were going. I answered : " To Salkhad, to 
Nasib cl Atrash," and they let us pass without further re- 
mark. They were not Druzes, for they did not wear the 
Druze turban, but Christians from Kreyeh, where there is a 
large Christian community, riding down to Umm ej Jemal to 
visit the winter quarters of their flocks, so said Fendi, whom 
they had passed a mile ahead. Several hours before we 
reached the present limits of cultivation, we saw the signs of 
ancient agriculture in the shape of long parallel lines of stones 
heaped aside from earth that had once been fruitful. They 
looked like the ridge and furrow of a gigantic meadow, and 
like the ridge and furrow they are almost indelible, the mark 
of labour that must have ceased with the Arab invasion. 
At the foot of the first spur of the hills, Tell esh Shih (it is 
called after the grey-white Shih plant which is the best pas- 
turage for sheep), we left the unharvested desert and entered 
the region of ploughed fields — we left, too, the long clean levels, 
of the open wilderness and were caught fetlock deep in the 
mud of a Syrian road. It led us up the hill to Umm er Rum- 
man, the Mother of Pomegranates, on the edge of the lowest 
plateau of the Jebel Druze, as bleak a little muddy spot as 
you could hope to see. I stopped at the entrance of the 
village, and asked a group of Druzes where I should find a 
camping ground, and they directed me to an extremely 
dirty place below the cemetery, saying there was no other 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 79 

where I should not spoil the crops or the grass, though the 
crops, Heaven save the mark ! were as yet below ground, 
and the grass consisted of a few brown spears half covered 
with melting snow. I could not entertain the idea of pitching 
tents so near the graveyard, and demanded to be directed to 
the house of Muhammad el Atrash, Sheikh of Umm er Rum- 
man. This prince of the Turshan was seated upon his roof, 
engaged in directing certain agricul- 
tural operations that were being 
carried forward in the slough below. 
Long years had made him shapeless 
of figure and the effect was enhanced 
by the innumerable garments in 
which the winter cold had forced him 
to wrap his (at old body. I came as 
near as the mud would allow, and 
shouted : 

" Peace be upon you, oh Sheikh ! " 

" And upon you peace ! " he bawled 
in answer. 

" Where in your village is there a 
dry spot for a camp ? " 

The sheikh confen-ed at the top ol 
his voice with his henchmen in the muhammad el atbaeh 
mud, and finally replied that he did not know, by God ! 
While I was wondering where to turn, a Druze stepped 
forward and announced that he could show me a place 
outside the town, and the sheikh, much relieved by the 
shifting of responsibility, gave me a loud injunction to go 
in peace, and resumed his occupations. 

My guide was a young man with the clear cut features 
and the sharp intelligent expression of his race. He was 
endowed, too, like all his kin, with a lively curiosity, and as 
he hopped from side to side of the road to avoid the pools 
of mud and slush, he had from me all my story, whence I 
came and whither I was going, who were my friends in the 
Jebel Druze and what my father's name — very different 
this from the custom of the Arabs, with whom it is an essen- 
tial point of good breeding never to demand more than the 



8o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

stranger sees fit to impart. In At Tabari's history there is a 
fine tale of a man who sought refuge with an Arab sheikh. 
He stayed on, and the sheikh died, and his son who ruled in 
his stead advanced in years, and at length the grandson of the 
original host came to his father and said : " Who is the man 
ivho dwells with us ? " And the father answered : " My 
8on, in my father's time he came, and my father grew old and 
died, and he stayed on under my protection, and I too have 
grown old ; but in all these years we have never asked him 
why he sought us nor what is his name. Neither do thou 
ask." Yet I rejoiced to find myself once more among the 
trenchant wits and the searching kohl-blackened eyes of the 
Mountain, where every question calls for a quick retort or a 
brisk parry, and when my interlocutor grew too inquisitive I 
had only to answer : 

" Listen, oh you ! I am not ' thou,' but ' Your Ex- 
cellency,' " and he laughed and understood and took the 
rebuke to heart. 

There are many inscriptions in Umm er Rumman, a few 
Nabataean and the rest Cufic, proving that the town on the 
shelf of the hills was an early settlement and that it was one of 
those the Arabs re-occupied for a time after the invasion. 
A delighted crowd of little boys followed me from house to 
house, tumbling over one another in their eagerness to point 
out a written stone built into a wall or laid in the flooring 
about the hearth. In one house a woman caught me by the 
arm and implored me to heal her husband. The man was 
lying in a dark corner of the windowless room, with his face 
wrapped in filthy bandages, and when these had been removed 
a horrible wound was revealed, the track of a buUet that 
had passed through the cheek and shatt'^.red the jaw, I could 
do nothing but give him an antiseptic, 3ind adjure the woman 
to wash the wound and keep the wrappings clean, and above 
all not to let him drink the medicine, though I felt it would 
make small odds which way he used it, Death had him so 
surely by the heel. This was the first of the long roll of 
sufferers that must pass before the eyes and catch despair- 
ingly at the sympathies of every traveller in wild places. 
Men and women afflicted with ulcers and terrible sores, with 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 81 

fevers and rheumatisms, children crippled from their birth, 
the blind and the old, there are none who do not hope that the 
unmeasured wisdom of the West may find them a remedy. 
You stand aghast at the depths of human misery and at your 
own helplessness. 

The path of archaeology led me at last to the sheikh's 
door, and I went in to pay him an official visit. He was most 
hospitably inclined now that the business of the day was over ; 
we sat together in the mak'ad, the audience room, a dark and 
dirty sort of out-house, with an iron stove in the centre of it, 
and discussed the Japanese War and desert ghazus and other 
topics of the day, while Selman, the sheikh's son, a charming 
Doy of sixteen, made us coffee. Muhammad is brother-in- 
law to Shibly and to Yahya Beg el Atrash, who had been my 
first host five years before when I had escaped to his village 
of 'Areh from the Turkish Mudir at Bosra, and Selman is 
the only son of his father's old age and the only descendant 
of the famous 'Areh house of the Turshan, for Shibly died and 
Yahya lives childless. The boy walked back with me to my 
camp, stepping lightly through the mud, a gay and eager 
figure touched with the air of distinction that befits one who 
comes of a noble stock. He had had no schooling, though there 
was a big Druze maktab at Kreyeh, fifteen miles away, kept 
by a Christian of some learning. 

" My father holds me so precious," he explained, *' that 
he will not let me leave his side." 

'* Oh Selman," I began 

" Oh God ! " he returned, using the ejaculation customary 
to one addressed by name. 

" The minds of the Druzes are like fine steel, but what is 
steel until it is beaten into a sword blade ? " 

Selman answered : " My uncle Shibly could neither read 
nor write." 

I said : " The times are changed. The house of the 
Turshan will need trained wits if it would lead the Mountain 
as it did before." 

But that headship is a thing of the past Shibly is dead 
and Yahya childless, Muhammad is old and Selman unde- 
veloped, Faiz has left four sons but they are of no repute. 

F 



/ 



82 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Nasib is cunning but very ignorant, there is Mustafa at Im- 
tain, who passes for a worthy man of little intelligence, and 
Hamud at Sweida, who is distinguished mainly for his wealth. 
The ablest man among the Druzes is without doubt Abu 
Tellal of Shahba, and the most enlightened Sheikh Muham- 
mad en Nassar. 

The night was bitterly cold. My thermometer had been 
broken, so that the exact temperature could not be registered, 
but every morning until we reached Damascus the water in 
the cup by my bedside was a solid piece of ice, and one night a 
little tumbling stream outside the camp was frozen hard and 
silent. The animals and the muleteers were usually housed 
in a khan while the frost lasted. Muhammad the Druze, who 
had returned to his original name and faith, disappeared 
the moment camp was pitched, and spent the night enjoying 
the hospitality of his relations. "For," said Mikhail sar- 
castically, " every man who can give him a meal he reckons 
to be the son of his uncle." 

I was obliged to delay my start next morning in order to 
profit by the sheikh's invitation to breakfast at a very elastic 
nine o'clock — two hours after sunrise was what was said, and 
who knows exactly when it may suit that luminary to 
appear ? It was a pleasant party. We discussed the war 
in Yemen in all its bearings — theoretically, for I was the only 
person who had any news, and mine was derived from a Weekly 
Times a month old — and then Muhammad questioned me 
as to why Europeans looked for inscriptions. 

" But I think I know," he added. " It is that they may 
restore the land to the lords of it." 

I assured him that the latest descendants of the former 
owners of the Hauran had been dead a thousand years, and 
he listened politely and changed the subject with the baffled 
air of one who cannot get a true answer. 

The young man who had shown us our camping ground 
rode with us to Salkhad, saying he had business there and 
might as well have company by the way. His name was 
Saleh ; he was of a clerkly family, a reader and a scribe. I 
was so tactless as to ask him whether he were 'akil, initiated 
— the Druzes are divided into the initiated and the uninitiated. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 83 

but the line of demarcation does not follow that of social 
pre-eminence, since most of the Turshan are uninitiated. He 
gave me a sharp look, and replied : 

" What do you think ? " and I saw my error and dropped 
the subject. 

But Saleh was not one to let slip any opportunity of gain- 
ing information. He 
questioned me acutely 
on our customs, down 
to the laws of mar- 
riage and divorce. He 
was vastly enter- 
tained at the English 
rule that the father 
should pay a man for 
marrying his daughter 
(so he interpreted 
the habit of giving 
her a marriage por- 
tion), and we laughed 
together over the 

absurdity of the arrangement. He was anxious to know 
Western views as to the creation of the world and the 
origin of matter, and I obliged him with certain heterodox 
opinions, on which he seized with far greater lucidity than that 
with which they were offered. We passed an agreeable morn- 
ing, in spite of the mud and boulders of the road. At the 
edge of the snow wreaths a little purple crocus had made 
haste to bloom, and a starry white garlic — the Mountain 
is very rich in Spring flowers. The views to the south over 
the great plain we had crossed were enchanting ; to the north 
the hills rose in unbroken slopes of snow, Kuleib, the Little 
Heart, looking quite AlpHie with its frosty summit half veiled 
in mist. Two hours alter noon we reached Salkhad, the 
first goal of our journey. 



CHAPTER V 

Salcah, the city of King Og in Bashan, must have been a 
fortified place from the beginning of history. The modern 
village clusters round the base of a small volcano, on the top 
of which, built in the very crater, is the ruined fortress. This 
fortress and its predecessors in the crater formed the outpost 
of the Hauran Mountains against the desert, the outpost of 
the earliest civiUsation against the earliest marauders. The 
ground drops suddenly to the south and east, and, broken 
only by one or two volcanic mounds in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood, settles itself down into the long levels that reach 
Euphrates stream ; straight as an arrow from a bow the 
Roman road runs out from Salkhad into the desert in a line 
that no modem traveller has followed beyond the first two or 
three stages. The caravan track to Nejd begins here and 
passes by Kaf and Ethreh along the Wadi Sirhan to Jof 
and Hail, a perilous way, though the Blunts pursued it suc- 
cessfully and'Euting after them. Euting's description of it, 
done with aU the learning and the minute observation of the 
German, is the best we have. Due south of Salkhad there is an 
interesting ruined fort, Kal'at el Azrak, in an oasis where 
there are thickets fuU of wild boar : Dussaud visited it and 
has given an excellent account of his journey. No doubt 
there is more to be found still ; the desert knows many a 
story that has not yet been told, and at Salkhad it is diffi- 
cult to keep your feet from turning, south, so invitingly 
mysterious are those great plains. 

I went at once to the house of Nasib el Atrash and 
presented Fellah ul 'Isa's letter. Nasib is a man of twenty- 
seven, though he looks ten years older, short in stature 
and sleek, with shrewd features of a type essentially Druze 
and an expression that is more cunning than pleasant. He 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 85 

received me in his raak'ad, where he was sitting with his 
brother Jada'llah, a tall young man with a handsome but 
rather stupid face, who greeted me with " Bon jour," and 
then relapsed into silence, having come to the end of all the 
French he linew, Just as he had borrowed one phrase from a 
European tongue, so he had borrowed one article of dress from 
European wardrobes : a high sticlt-up collar was what he had 
selected, and It went strangely with his Arab clothes. There 



were a few Druzes drinking coffee in the mak'ad, and one other 
whom I instantly diagnosed as an alien. He turned out to be 
the Mudir el Mai of the Turkish government — I do not know 
what his exact functions are, but his title implies him to be 
an agent of the Treasury. Salkhad is one of three villages in 
Jebel Druze (the others being Sweida and 'Areh) where the 
Sultan has a Kaimakam and a telegraph station. Yusef 
EtEendi, Kairaakim, and Milhcm lliin, Mudir el Mai, were 
considerably surprised when I turned up from the desert 
without warning or permission ; they despatched three tele- 
grams daily to the Vali of Damascus, recounting all that I did 
and said, and though I was on the best of terms with both of 
them, finding indeed Milhem to be by far the most intelligent 
and agreeable man in the village, I fear I caused them much 
perturbation of mind. And here let me say that my ex- 
perience of Turkish officials leads me to count them among the 



86 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

most polite and obliging of men. If you come to them with 

the proper certificates there is nothing they will not do to 

help you ; when they stop you it is because they are obliged 

to obey orders from higher authorities; and even when you 

set aside, as from time to time you must, refusals that are 

always couched in language conciliatory to a fault, they 

conceal their just annoyance and bear 

you no ill will for the trouble you 

have caused them. The government 

agents at Salkhad occupy an uneasy 

position. It is true that there has 

been peace in the Mountain for the 

past five years, but the Druzes are a 

slippery race and one quick to take 

offence. Milhem understood them 

well, and his appointment to the new 

post of Salkhad is a proof of the 

Vali's genuine desire to avoid trouble 

in the future. He had been at 

Sweida for many years before he came 

to Salkhad ; he was a Christian, and 

therefore not divided from the Druzes 

by the unbridged gulf of hatred that 

lies between them and Islam, and he 

NAsiB EI, ATRASH ^^^ j^jj^ g^^gj-g ^^^^ Turkish lule in 

the Jebel Hauran depends on how little demand is made on a 

people nominally subject and practically independent. Yiisef 

Effendi was not far behind him in the strength of his conviction 

on this head, and he had the best of reasons for realising how 

shadowy his authority was. There are not more than two 

hundred Turkish soldiers in all the Mountain ; the rest of 

the Ottoman forces are Druze zaptiehs, well pleased to wear 

a government uniform and draw government pay, on the 

rare occasions when it reaches them, though they can hardly 

be considered a trustworthy guard if serious differences arise 

between their own people and the Sultan. To all outward 

appearance Nasib and his brother were linked by the closest 

bonds of friendship with the Kaimakam ; they were for ever 

sitting in his mak'ad and drinking his coffee, but once when 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 87 

we happened to be alone together, YCsef Effendi said patheti- 
cally in his stilted Turkish Arabic : " I never know what 
they are doing : they look on me as an enemy. And if they 
wish to disobey orders from Damascus, they cut the tele- 
graph wire and go their own way. What power have I to 
prevent them ? " 

Nevertheless there are signs that the turbulent people of 
the Mountain 
have turned 
their minds 
to other 
matters than 
war with the 
Osmanli, and 
among the 
chief of these 
are the steam 
mills that 
grind the corn 
of Salkhad 
and a few 
villages be- 
sides. A man 
who owns a 

steam mill is * croup of druzejj 

pledged to maintain the existing order. He has built it at 
considerable expense, he does not wish to see it wrecked by an 
invading Turkisli army and his capital wasted ; on the contrary, 
he hopes to make money from it, and his restless eneigies find 
a new and profitable outlet in that direction. My impression 
is that peace rests on a much firmer basis than it did five 
years ago, and that the Ottoman government has not been 
slow to learn the lessons of the last war— if only the Vali of 
Damascus could have known how favourable an opinion his 
recent measures would force on the mind of the intriguing 
Englishwoman, he might have spared his telegraph clerks 
several hours' work. 

There could scarcely have been a better example of the 
freedom with which the Druzes control their own affairs than 



88 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

was offered by an incident that took place on the very evening 
of my arrival. It has already been intimated on the authority 
of Fendi that the relations between the Mountain and the 
Desert were fraught with the usual possibilities of martial 
incident, and we had not Spent an afternoon in Salkhad with- 
out discovering that the great raid that had occurred some 
months previously was the topic that chiefly interested Nasib 
and his brother. Not that they spoke of it in their con- 
versations with me, but they listened eagerly when we told of 
the raid on the Hassaniy/eh and the part the Sukhur had 
played in it, and they dr3w from us all we knew or conjec- 
tured as to the present camping grounds of the latter tribe, 
how far the raiders had come, and in which direction re- 
treated. The muleteers overheard men whispering at the 
street comers, and their whispers were of warlike preparations ; 
the groups round Mikhail's fire, ever a centre of social ac- 
tivity, spoke of injuries that could not be allowed to pass 
xmnoticed, and one of the many sons of Muhammad's uncle 
had provided that famished Beyrouti with a lunch flavoured 
with dark hints of a league between the Wadi Sirhan and the 
Beni Sakhr Which must be nipped in the bud ere it had as- 
sumed alarming proportions. The wave of the ghazu can 
hardly reach as far as Salkhad itself, but the harm is done 
long before it touches that point, especially in the winter 
when every four-footed creature, except the mare necessary 
for riding, is far away in the southern plain. 

My camp was pitched in a field outside the town at the 
eastern foot of the castle hill. The slopes to the north were 
deep in snow up to the ruined walls of the fortress, and even 
where we lay there were a few detached snowdrifts glittering 
under the full moon. I had just finished dinner, and was 
debating whether it were too cold to write my diary, when a 
sound of savage singing broke upon the night, and from the 
topmost walls of the castle a great flame leapt up into the 
sky. It was a beacon kindled to tell the news of the coming 
raid to the many Druze villages scattered over the plain 
below, and the sgng was a call to arms. There was a Druze 
zaptieh sitting by my camp fire ; he jumped up and gazed 
first at me and then at the red blaze above us. I said : 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 91 

" Is there permission to my going up ? " 
He answered : " There is no refusal. Honour us." 
We climbed together over the half frozen mud, and by the 
snowy northern side of the volcano, edged our way in the dark- 
ness round the castle walls where the lava ashes gave beneath 
our feet, and came out into the full moonlight upon the wildest 
scene that eyes could see. A crowd of Druzes, young men 
and boys, stood at the edge of the moat on a narrow shoulder 
of the hill. They were all armed with swords and knives and 
they were shouting phrase by phrase a terrible song. Each 
line of it was repeated twenty times or more until it seemed 
to the listener that it had been bitten, as an acid bites the brass, 
onto the intimate recesses of the mind. 

** Upon them, upon them ! oh Lord our God ! that the foe may fall 

in swathes before our swords ! 
Upon them, upon them ! that our spears may drink at their hearts ! 
Let the babe leave his mother's breast ! 
Let the young man arise and be gone ! 
Upon them, upon them ! oh Lord our God ! that our swords may 

drink at their hearts. ..." 

So they sang, and it was as though the fury of their anger 
would never end, as though the castle walls would never 
cease from echoing their interminable rage and the night 
never again know silence, when suddenly the chant stopped 
and the singers drew apart and formed themselves into a 
circle, every man holding his neighbours by the hand. Into 
the circle stepped three young Druzes with bare swords, and 
strode round the ring of eager boys that enclosed them. 
Before each in turn they stopped and shook their swords 
and cried : 

" Are you a good man ? Are you a true man ? " 

And each one answered with a shout : 

"Ha! ha!" 

The moonlight fell on the dark faces and glittered on the 
quivering blades, the thrill of martial ardour passed from 
hand to clasped hand, and earth cried to heaven : War ! red 
war ! 

And then one of the three saw me standing in the circle, 
and strode up and raised his sword above his head, as though 
nation saluted nation. 



92 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" Lady ! " he said, " the English and the Druze are one." 

I said : " Thank God ! we, too, are a fighting race." 

Indeed, at that moment there seemed no finer thing than 
to go out and kill your enemy. 

And when this swearing in of warriors was over, we ran 
down the hill under the moon, still holding hands, and I, 
seeing that some were only children not yet full grown, said 
to the companion whose hand chance had put iji mine : 

" Do all these go out with you ? " 

He answered : " By God ! not all. The ungrown boys 
must stay at home and pray to God that their day may soon 
come." 

When they reached the entrance of the town, the Druzes 
leapt on to a flat house roof, and took up their devilish song. 
The fire had burnt out on the castle walls, the night struck 
suddenly cold, and I began to doubt whether if Milhem and 
the Vali of Damascus could see me taking part in a demon- 
stration against the Sukhur they would believe in the inno- 
cence of my journey ; so I turned away into the shadow and 
ran down to my tents and became a European again, bent on 
peaceful pursuits and unacquainted with the naked primitive 
passions of mankind. 

We had certain inquiries to make concerning our journey, 
and stores to lay in before we set out for the eastern side of 
the Mountain, where there are no big villages, and therefore 
we spent two days at Salkhad. The great difficulty of the 
commissariat is barley for the animals. There had been 
enough for our needs at Umm er Rumman, but there was 
none at Salkhad ; it is always to be got at Sweida, which is 
the chief post of the Turkish government, but that was far 
away across the hills, and we decided to send down to Imteiu, 
the path thither being bare of snow. It is worth recording 
that in the winter, when, all the flocks are several hours away 
in the plain, it is impossible to buy a sheep in the Mountain, 
and the traveller has to make shift with such scraggy chickens 
as he may find. The want of foresight which had left our 
larder so ill-furnished affected Mikhail considerably, for he 
prided himself on the roasting of a leg of mutton, and he 
asked me how it was that all the books I had with me had 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 93 

not hinted at the absence of the animal that could supply 
that delicacy. I answered that the writers of these works 
seemed to have been more concerned with Roman remains 
than with such weighty matters as roasts and stews, whereat 
he said firmly : 

" When your Excellency writes a book, you will not say : 
Here there is a beautiful church and a great castle.' The 



gentry can see that for themselves. But you shall say : 
' In this village there are no hens.' Then they will know 
from the begiiming what sort of country it is." 

The first day of my visit I spent with Nasib, watching 
him give orders for the grinding of the com needed for the 
coming military expedition (to which we sedulously avoided 
any allusion), photographing him and the notables of his 
village, and lunching with him in his mak'ad on gritty brown- 
paper-Uke bread and dibs, a kmd of treacle made from boiled 
grape juice, and a particularly nasty sort of soup of sour milk 
with scraps of fat mixed in it—kirk the Druzes call it and hold it 
in an unwarrantable esteem. In the afternoon Nasib was riding 
some ten miles to the south, to settle a dispute that had arisen 
between two of his villages, and he invited me to accompany 



94 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

him ; but I thought that there were probably other matters 
on hand, in which it might be awkward if a stranger were to 
assist, and I compromised by agreeing to go with him for an 
hour and turn aside to visit a shrine on top of a tell, the Weli 
of El Khudr, who is no other than our St. George. Nasib 
rode out in style with twenty armed men by his side, himself 
arrayed in a long mantle of dark blue cloth embroidered 
in black, with a pale blue handkerchief tucked into the folds 
of the white turban that encircled his tarbush. The caval- 
cade looked very gallant, each man wrapped in a cloak and 
carrying his rifle across his knees. These rifles were handed to 
me one by one that I might read the lettering on them. They 
were of many different dates and origins, some antiquated 
pieces stolen from Turkish soldiers, the most French arid 
fairly modern, while a few came from Egypt and were marked 
with V.R. and the broad arrow. Nasib rode with me for a 
time and catechised me on my social status, whether I would 
ride at home with the King of England, and what was the extent 
of my father's wealth. His curiosity was not entirely without 
a motive ; the Druzes are always hoping to find some very 
rich European whose sympathies they could engage, and 
who would finance and arm them if another war were to 
break out with the Sultan ; but so contemptuous was he of the 
modest competence which my replies revealed, that I was 
roused to ask subsequently, by methods more tactful than 
those of Nasib, what was wealth in the Mountain. The 
answer was that the richest of the Turshan, Hamud of Sweida, 
had an income of about 5000 napoleons. Nasib himself was 
not so well off. He had some 1000 napoleons yearly. Probably 
it comes to him mainly in kind ; all revenues are derived 
from land, and vary considerably with the fortunes of the 
agricultural year. The figures given me were, I should think, 
liberal, and depended on a reckoning according with the best 
harvest rather than with the mean. 

Presently Nasib fell behind and engaged in a whispered 
conversation with an old man who was his chief adviser, 
while the others crowded round me and told me tales of the 
desert and of great ruins to the south, which they were pre- 
pared to show me if I would stay with them. At the foot 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 95 

of the tell we met a group of horsemen waiting to impart to 
Nasib some important news about the Arabs. _ Mikhail and I 
stood aside, having seen our host look doubtfully at us out 
of the comers of his eyes. That the tidings were not good 
was all we heard, and no one could have learnt even that from 
Nasib's crafty unmoved face and eyes concealed beneath 



I OKVZK vLovcttKor 



the lids as if he wished to make sure that they should not 
reveal a single flash of his thoughts. Here we left him, to 
his evident relief, and rode up the tell. Now there is never a 
prominent hill in the Jebel Druze but it bears a sanctuary on 
its summit, and the building is always one of those early monu- 
ments of the land that date back to the times before Druze 
or Turk came into it. What is their history ? ^ Were they 
erected to Nabataan gods of rock and hiU, to Drusara and 
Allat and the pantheon of the Semitic inscriptions whom 
the desert worshipped with sacrifice at the Ka'abah and on 
many a solitary mound ? If this be so the old divinities 
still bear sway under changed names, still smell the blood of 
goafs and sheep sprinkled on the black doorposts of their 
dwellings, still hear the prayers of pilgrims carrying green 



96 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

boughs and swathes of flowers. As at the Well of El Khudr, 
there is always in the interior of the sanctuary an erection 
like a sarcophagus, covered with shreds of coloured rags., and 
when you lift the rags and peer beneath you find some queer 
block of tufa, worn smooth with libations and own brother 
to the Black Stone at Mecca. Near at hand there is a stone 
basin for water — the water was iced over that day, and the 
snow had drifted in through the stone doors and was melting 
through the roof, so that it lay in muddy pools on the floor. 

The next day was exceedingly cold, with a leaden sky 
and a bitter wind, the forerunner of snow. Milhem Ilian 
came down to invite me to lodge with him, but I refused, 
fearing that I should feel the temperature of my tent too 
icy after his heated room. He stayed some time and I took 
the opportunity of discussing with him my plan of riding out 
into the Safa, the volcanic waste east of the Jebel Druze. 
He was not at all encouraging, indeed he thought the pro- 
ject impossible under existing conditions, for it seemed that 
the Ghiath, the tribe that inhabits the Safa, were up in arms 
against the Government. They had waylaid and robbed the 
desert post that goes between Damascus and Baghdad, and 
were expecting retribution at the hands of the Vali. If therefore 
a small escort of zaptiehs were to be sent in with me they would 
assuredly be cut to pieces. Milhem agreed, however, that it 
might be possible to go in alone with the Druzes though any- 
thing short of an army of soldiers would be useless, and he 
promised to give me a letter to Muhammad en Nassar, Sheikh 
of Saleh, whom he described as a good friend of his and a man 
of influence and judgment. The Ghiath are in the same posi- 
tion with regard to the Druzes as are the Jebeliyyeh ; they can- 
not afford not to be on good terms with the Mountain, since 
they are dependent on the high pasturages during the summer. 

Towards sunset I returned Milhem's visit. His room was 
full of people, including Nasib newly returned from his 
expedition. They made me tell them of my recent experiences 
in the desert, and I found that all my friends were counted as 
foes by the Druzes and that they have no allies save the 
Ghiath and the Jebeliyyeh — the Sherarat, the Da'ja, the 
Beni Hassan, there was a score of blood against them all. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 99 

In the desert the word gdm, foe, is second to none save only 
that of daify guest, but in the Mountain it comes easily first. 
I said : 

'* Oh Nasib, the Druzes are like those of whom Kureyt 
ibn Uneif sang when he said : * A people who when evil 
bares its teeth against them, fly out to meet it in companies 
or alone.' " 

The sheikh's subtle countenance relaxed for a second, 
but the talk was drifting too near dangerous subjects, and he 
rose shortly afterwards and took his leave. His place was 
filled by new comers (Milhem*s coffee-pots must be kept 
boiling from dawn till late at night), and presently one entered 
whom they all rose to salute. He was a Kurdish Agha, a 
fine old man with a white moustache and a clean-shaven 
chin, who comes down from Damascus from time to time on 
some business of his own. Milhem is a native of Damascus, 
and had much to ask and hear ; the talk left desert topics 
and swung round to town dwellers and their ways and views. 

" Look you, your Excellencies," said a man who was 
making coffee over the brazier, " there is no religion in the 
towns as there is in country places." 

"Yes," pursued Milhem — 

"May God make it Yes upon you!" ejaculated the Kurd. 

" May God requite you, oh Agha ! . You may find men 
in the Great Mosque at Damascus at the Friday prayers and 
a few perhaps at Jerusalem, but in Beyrout and in Smyrna 
the mosques are empty and the churches are empty. There 
is no religion any more." 

" My friends," said the Agha, " I will tell you the reason. 
In the country men are poor and they want much. Of whom 
should they ask it but of God ? There is none other that 
is compassionate to the poor save He alone. But in the 
towns they are rich, they have got all they desire, and why 
should they pray to God if they want nothing ? The lady 
laughs — is it not so among her own people ? " 

I confessed that there was very little difference in this 
matter between Europe and Asia and presently left the 
party to pursue their coffee drinking and their conversation 
without me. 



loo THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Late at night some one came knocking at my tent and 
a woman's voice cried to me : 

" Lady, lady ! a mother's heart (are not the EngHsh 
merciful ?) listen to the sorrow of a mother's heart and take 
this letter to my son ! " 

I asked the unseen suppliant where her son was to be found. 

" In Tripoli, in Tripoli of the West. He is a soldier and 
an exile, who came not back with the others after the war. 
Take this letter, and send it by a sure hand from Damascus, 
for there is no certainty in the posts of Salkhad." 

I unfastened the tent and took the letter, she crying the 
while : 

" The wife of Nasib told me that you were generous. A 
mother's heart, you understand, a mother's heart that mourns!" 

So she departed weeping, and I sent the mysterious letter 
by the English post from Beyrout, but whether it ever reached 
Tripoli of the West and the Druze exile we shall not know. 

The Kaimakam came out to see us off next morning and 
provided us with a Druze zaptieh to show us the way to Saleh. 
The wind was searchingly cold, and the snow was reported to 
lie very deep on the hills, for which reason we took the lower 
road by Orman, a village memorable as the scene of the out- 
break of the last war. Milhem had entrusted my guide, Yusef , 
with the mail that had just come in to Salkhad ; it consisted 
of one letter only, and that was for a Christian, an inhabitant 
of Orman, whom we met outside the village. It was from 
Massachusetts, from one of his three sons who had emigrated 
to America and were all doing well, praise be to God ! They 
had sent him thirty liras between them the year before : he 
bubbled over with joyful pride as we handed him the letter 
containing fresh news of them. At Orman the road turned 
upwards — I continue to call it a road for want of a name bad 
enough for it. It is part of the Druze system of defence that 
there shall be no track in the Mountain wide enough for two 
to go abreast or smooth enough to admit of any pace beyond 
a stumbling walk, and it is the part that is the most success- 
fully carried out. We were soon in snow, half melted, half 
frozen, concealing the holes in the path but not firm enough 
to prevent the animals from breaking through into them. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN loi 

Occasionally there were deep drifts on which the mules em- 
barked with the utmost confidence only to fall midway and 
scatter their packs, while the horses plunged and reared till 
they almost unseated us. Mikhail, who was no rider, bit the 
slush several times. The makers of the Palestine Exploration 
map have aUowed 
■ their fancy to 
play freely over 
the eastern slopes 
of the Jebel 
Druze. Hills 
have hopped 
along for miles, 
and villages have 
crossed ravines 
and settled them- 
selves on the op- 
posite banks, as, 
for instance, Abu 
Zrcik, which 
stands on the left 
bank of the Wadi 
Rajil, though the 
map places it on 
the right. At the 
time it all seemed 
to lit in with the 

general malevo- '^^^ village gateway, habran 

lence of that day's journey, and our misery culminated 
when we entered on an interminable snow field swept by a 
blizzard of cutting sleet. At the dim end of it, quite un- 
approachably far away, we could just see through the sleet 
the slopes on which Saleh stands, but as we plodded on mile 
after mile (it was useless to attempt to ride on our stumb- 
ling animals and far too cold besides) we gradually came 
nearer, and having travelled seven hours to accomplish a 
four hours' march, we splashed and waded late in the after- 
noon though the mounds of slush and pools of water that did 
duty as streets. There was not a dry place in all the village. 



102 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and the snow v/as falling heavily ; clearly there was nothing to 
be done but to beat at the door of Muhammad en Nassar, who 
has an honoured reputation for hospitality, and I made the 
best of my way up steps sheeted with ice to his mak'ad. 

If Providence owed us any compensation for the discom- 
forts of the day, it paid us, or at least it paid me, full measure 
and running over, by the enchanting evening that I spent in 
the sheikh's house. Muhammad en Nassar is a man full of 

• • • 

years and wisdom who has lived to see a large family of sons 
and nephews grow up round him, and to train their quick 
wits by his own courteous and gracious example. All the 
Druzes are essentially gentlefolk ; but the house of the sheikhs 
of Saleh could not be outdone in good breeding, natural and 
acquired, by the noblest of the aristocratic races, Persian 
or Rajputs, or any others distinguished beyond Iheir fellows. 
Milhem's letter was quite unnecessary to ensure me a wel- 
come ; it was enough that I was cold and hungry and an 
Englishwoman. The fire in the iron stove was kindled, my 
wet outer garments taken from me, cushions and carpets 
spread on the divans under the sheikh's directions, and all 
the band of his male relations, direct and collateral, dropped 
in to enliven the evening. We began well. I knew that 
Oppenheim had taken his escort from Saleh when he went 
into the Safa, and I happened to have his book with me — how 
often had I regretted that a wise instinct had not directed 
my choice towards Dussaud's two admirable volumes, rather 
than to Oppenheim's ponderous work, packed with infor- 
mation that was of little use on the present journey ! The 
great merit of the book lies in the illustrations, and fortunately 
there was among them a portrait of Muhammad en Nassar 
with his two youngest children. Having abstracted Kie- 
pert's maps, I was so generous as to present the tome to one 
of the family who had accompanied the learned German 
upon his expedition. It has remained at Saleh to be a joy 
and a glory to the sheikhs, who will look at the pictures and 
make no attempt to grapple with the text, and the hole in 
my bookshelves is well filled by the memory of their pleasure. 
We talked without ceasing during the whole evening, 
with a brief interval when an excellent dinner was brought 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN loj 

in. The old sheikh, Yusef the zaptieh, and I partook of it 

together, and the eldest of the nephews and cousins finished 
up the ample remains. The topic that interested them most 
at Saleh was the Japanese War— indeed it was in that 
direction that conversation invariably turned in the Moun- 
tain, the reason being that the Druzes beUeve the Japanese 
to belong to their own race. The line of argument which has 



led them to this astonishing conclusion is simple. The secret 
doctrines o£ their faith hold out hopes that some day an army 
of Druzes will burst out of the furthest limits of Asia and 
conquer the world. The Japanese had shown indomitable 
courage, the Druzes also are brave ; the Japanese had been 
victorious, the Druzes of prophecy will be unconquerable ; 
therefore the two are one and the same. The sympathy of 
every one, whether in Syria or in Asia Minor, is on the side of 
the Japanese, with the single exception of the members of 
the Orthodox Church, who look on Russia as their protector. 
It seems natural that the Ottoman government should re- 
joice to witness the discomfiture of their secular foes, but it 
is more difficult to account for the pleasure of Arab, Druze 
(apart from the secret hope of the Druzes above mentioned), 
and Kurd, between whom and the Turk there is no love lost. 
These races are not wont to be gratified by the overthrow of 



104 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the Sultan's enemies, a class to which they themselves generally 
belong. At bottom there is no doubt a certain Schaden- 
freude, and the natural impulse to favour the little man against 
the big bully, and behind all there is that curious link which is 
so difficult to classify except by the name of a continent, and the 
war appeals to the Asiatic because it is against the European. 
However eagerly you may protest that the Russians cannot 
be considered as a type of European civilisation, however 
profoundly you may be convinced that the Japanese show 
as few common characteristics with Turk or Druze as they 
show with South Sea Islander or Esquimaux, East calls 
to East, and the voice wakes echoes from the China Seas to 
the Mediterranean. 

We talked also of the Turk. Muhammad had been one 
of the many sheikhs who were sent into exile after the Druze 
war ; he had visited Constantinople, and his experiences em- 
braced Asia Minor also, so that he was competent to hold an 
opinion on Turkish characteristics. In a blind fashion, the 
fashion in which the Turk conducts most of his affairs, the 
wholesale carrying off of the Druze sheikhs and their enforced 
sojourn for two or three years in distant cities of the Empire, 
has attained an end for which far-sighted statesmanship might 
have laboured in vain. Men who would otherwise never 
have travelled fifty miles from their own village have been 
taught perforce some knowledge of the * world ; they have 
returned to exercise a semi-independence almost as they did 
before, but their minds have received, however reluctantly, 
the impression of the wide extent of the Sultan's dominions, 
the mfinite number of his resources, and the comparative 
unimportance of Druze revolts in an empire which yet survives 
though it is familiar with every form of civil strife. Muhammad 
had been so completely convinced that there was a world 
beyond the limits of the Mountain that he had attempted to 
push two of his six sons out into it by putting them into a 
Government office in Damascus. He had failed because, 
even with his maxims in their ears, the boys were too head- 
strong. Some youthful neglect of duty, followed by a sharp 
rebuke from their superior, had sent them hurrying back to 
the village where they could be independent sheikhs, idle and 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 105 

respected. Muhammad took in a weekly sheet published in 
Damascus, and the whole family followed with the keenest 
interest such news of foreign politics, of English politics in 
particular, as escaped the censor's pencil. Important events 
sometimes eluded their notice — or that of the editor — for 
my hosts asked after Lord Salisbury and were deeply grieved 
to hear he had been dead some years. The other name they 
knew, besides Lord Cromer's, which is known always and 
everywhere, was that of Mr. Chamberlain, and thus there 
started in the mak'ad at Saleh an animated debate on the 
fiscal question, lavishly illustrated on my part with examples 
drawn from the Turkish gumruk, the Custom House. It may 
be that my arguments were less exposed to contradiction 
than those which most free traders are in a position to use, 
for the whole of Saleh rejected the doctrines of protection 
and retaliation (there was no half-way-house here) with 
unanimity. 

There was only one point which was not settled with 
perfect satisfaction to all, and that was my journey to the 
Safa. I have a shrewd suspicion that Milhem's letter, which 
had been handed to me sealed, so that I had not been able to 
read it, was of the nature of that given by Praetus to Belle- 
rophon when he sent him to the King of Lycia, and that if 
Muhammad was not commanded to execute the bearer on 
arrival, he was strongly recommended to discourage her 
project. At any rate, he was of opinion that the expedition 
could not be accomplished unless I would take at least twenty 
Druzes as escort, which would have involved so much pre- 
paration and expense that I was obliged to abandon the idea, 

At ten o'clock I was asked at what hour I wished to sleep, 
and, to the evident chagrin of those members of the company 
who had not been riding all day in the snow, I replied 
that the time had come. The sons and nephews took their 
departure, wadded quilts were brought in and piled into three 
bed J one on each of the three sides of the immense divan, 
the sheikh, Yusef and I tucked ourselves up, and I knew no 
more till I woke in the sharp frost of the early dawn. I got 
up and went out into the fresh air. Saleh was fast asleep in 
the snow ; even the little stream that tumbled in and out of a 



io6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Roman fountain in the middle of the village was sleeping 
under a thick coat of ice. In the clear cold silence I watched 
the eastern sky redden and fade and the sun send a long shaft 
of light over the snow field through which we had toUed the 
day before. I put up a short thanksgiving appropriate to 
fine weather, roused the muleteers and the mules from their 
common resting place under the dark vaults of the khan, 
ate the breakfast which Muhammad en Nassar provided, and 
took a prolonged and most grateful farewell of my host and 
his family. No better night's rest and no more agreeable 
company can have fallen to the lot of any wanderer by plain 
and hill than were accorded to me at SaJeh. 



LINTEL. EL f 



CHAPTER VI 

My objective that day was the village of Umm Ruweik on 
the eastern edge of the Druze hills. Remembering the vagaries 
of the map, I took with me one of Muhammad en Nassar's 
nephews as a guide, Faiz was his name, and he was brother 
to Ghishghash, the Sheikh of Umm Ruweik. I had singled 
him out the night before as being the pleasantest member 
of the pleasant circle in the mak'ad, and in a four days' ac- 
quaintance there was never an incident that caused me to 
regret my choice. He was a man with features all out of 
drawing, his nose was crooked, his mouth was crooked, you 
would not have staked anything upon the straight setting of 
his eyes ; his manner was particularly gentle and obliging, 
his conversation intelligent, and he was full of good counsel 
and resource. We had not ridden very far along the lip of 
the hills, I gazing at the eastern plain as at a Promised Land 
that my feet would never tread, before Faiz began to develop 
a plan for leaving the mules and tents behind at Umm Ruweik 
and making a dash across the Safa to the Ruhbeh, where lay 
the great ruin of which the accounts had fired my imagination. 
In a moment the world changed colour, and Success shone from 
the blue sky and hung in golden mists on that plain which 
had suddenly become accessible. 

Our path fell rapidly from Saleh, and in half an hour we 
were out of the snow and ice that had plagued us for the last 
day and night ; half an hour later when we reached the 
Wadi Busan, where the swift waters turned a mill wheel, we 
had left the winter country behind. Saneh, the village on 
the north side of the Wadi Busan, looked a flourishing place 
and contained some good specimens of Hauran architecture 
— I remember in particular a fine architrave carved with a 
double scroll of grapes and vine leaves that fell on either side 



io8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of a vase occupying the centre of the stone. It was at Saneh 
that we came onto the very edge of the plateau and saw the 
great plain of the Safa spread out like a sea beneath us. The 
strange feature of it was that its surface was as black as a 
black tent roof, owing to the sheets of lava and volcanic stone 
that were spread over it. At places there were patches o£ 
yellow, whicla I afterwards discovered to be the earth on which 



the lumps of tufa lay revealed by their occasional absence, 
and these the Arabs call the Beida, the White Land, in con- 
tradistinction to the Harra, the Burnt Land of lava and 
tufa. In the Safa the White Land is almost as arid as the 
Burnt, though generally the word Beida means arable, for 
I heard Faiz shout to the muleteers : " Come off the 
Beida ! " when the mules had strayed into a field of winter 
wheat. The literary word for desert bears a puzzling resem- 
blance to this other, as for instance in Mutanabbi's verse. 
" Al lail w'al ktail w'al beida ta'rafuni i " 
Night and my steed and the desert know me — 
And the lance thrust and battle, and parchment and the pen." 

The Safa ran out to a dark mass of volcanoes, lying almost 
due north and south, but we were so high above them that 
their elevation was not perceptible. Beyond them again 
we could see a wide stretch of Beida whidi was the Ruhbel 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN in 

plain. To the east and south on the immensely distant 
horizon a few little volcanic cones marked the end of the 
Hauran outcrop of lava and the beginning of the Hamad, 
the waterless desert that reaches to Baghdad. To the north 
were the hills round Dmer, and still further north the other 
range bounding the valley ten miles wide that leads to Pal- 
myra, and these ran back to the slopes of Anti-Libanus, snow- 
capped, standing above the desert road to Homs. We turned 
east to Shibbekeh, a curious place built above a valley the 
northern bank of which is honeycombed with caves, and 
north to Sheikhly and Rameh on the southern brink of a very 
deep gully, the Wadi esh Sham, down which are the most 
easterly of the inhabited villages, Fedhameh and Ej Jeita. 
The settlements on this side of the Mountain have an air of 
great antiquity. The cave villages may have existed long 
before Nabatsean times ; possibly they go back to the prehis- 
toric uncertainties of King Og, or the people whom his name 
covered, when whole towns were quarried out underground, 
the most famous example being Dera'a in the Hauran plain 
south of Mezerib. We left Mushennef to the west, not with- 
out regrets on my part that I had not time to revisit it, for 
mirrored in its great tank is one of the most charming of all 
the temples of the Jebel Druze, not excepting the magnificent 
monuments of Kanawat. El Ajlat, north of the Wadi esh 
Sham, is perched on top of a tell high enough to touch the 
February snow line, and another valley leads down from it 
to the Safa — I heard of a ruin and an inscription in its lower 
course but did not visit them We got to Umm Ruweik 
about four o'clock, and pitched tents on the edge of the moun- 
tain shelf, where I could see through my open tent door the 
whole extent of the Safa. 

Sheikh Ghishghash was all smiles. Certainly I cov*ld ride 
out to the Ruhbeh if I would take him and his son Ahmed 
and Faiz with me. He scoffed at the idea of a larger escort. 
By the Face of the Truth, the Ghiath were his servants and his 
bondmen, they would entertain us as the noble should be 
entertained and provide us with luxurious lodgings. I dined 
with Ghishghash (he would take no refusal), and concluded 
tliat he was an easy tempered, boastful, and foolish man, 



112 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

extremely talkative, though all that he said was not worth one 
of Faiz's sentences. Faiz fell into comparative silence in his 
company, and Ahmed too said little, but that little was 
sensible and worth hearing. Ghishghash told great tales of 
the Safa and of what it contained, the upshot of which was 
that beyond the ruins already known there was nothing till 
you travelled a day's journey east of the Ruhbeh, but that 
there you came to a quarry and a ruined castle like the famous 
White Ruin of the Ruhbeh which we were going to see, 
but smaller and less well preserved. And beyond that 
stretched the Hamad, with no dwellings in it and no rujm — 
even the bravest of the Arabs were forced to desert it in the 
summer owing to the total lack of water. My heart went out 
to the mysterious castle east of the Ruhbeh, unvisited, I 
believe, by any traveller ; but it was too distant a journey 
to be accomplished on the spur of the moment without pre- 
paration. " When you next return, oh lady ." Yes, when 

I return. But I shall not on a future occasion rely on the 
luxurious entertainment of the Ghiath. 

After consultation I decided that Mikhail and Habib 
should accompany us, the latter at his special request. He 
would ride his best mule, he said, and she could keep pace 
with any mare and carry besides the rugs and the five chickens 
which we took with us to supplement the hospitality of the 
Ghiath. I had a fur coat strapped behind my saddle and, 
as usual, a camera and a note-book in my saddle-bags. We 
rode down the steep slopes of the hills for an hour, three 
other Druze horsemen joining us as we went. I presently 
discovered that the sheikhs had added them to the stipu- 
lated escort, but I made no comment. One of the three 
was a relative of Ghishghash, his name Khittab; he had 
travelled with Oppenheim and proved to be an agreeable 
companion. We passed through the ploughland of Ghish- 
ghash's village and then down slopes almost barren, though 
they yielded enough pasturage for his flocks of sheep shepn 
herded by Arabs, and at the foot of the hill we entered a shal- 
low stony valley wherein was a tiny encampment surrounded 
by more herds that quarried their dinner among the boulders. 
After an hour of the valley, which wound between volcanic 



KANAW7.T. DOORWAY OF THE BASILICA 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 115 

rocks, we came out onto the wide desolation' of the Safa. 
It is almost, but not quite, flat. The surface breaks into low 
gentle billowings, just deep enough to shut out the landscape 
from the horseman in the depression, so that he may journey 
for an hour or more and see nothing but a sky-line of black 
stones a few feet above him on eitlier side. The billowings 
lave an ordered plan ; they form continuous waterless valleys. 



(eanawAt, a temple 
each one of which the Arabs know by a name. Valley 
and ridge alike are covered with blocks of tufa, varying from 
six inches across to two feet or more, and where there is any 
space between them you can perceive the hard yellow soil, 
the colour of sea sand, on which they lie. An extremely 
scanty scrub pushes its way between the stones, hamad and 
shih and hajeineh, and here and there a tiny geranium, the 
starry garlic and the leaves of the tulip, but generally there 
is no room even for the slenderest plants, so closely do the 
stones lie together. They are black, smooth and edgeless, 
as though they had been waterwom ; when the sun shines 
the air dazzles above them as it dazzles above a sheet of 
molten metal, and in the summer the comparison must hold 
good in other respects, for the pitiless heat is said to be al- 
most unendurable. It would be difficult to cross the $afa 



ii6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

if it were not for the innumerable minute paths that inter- 
sect it. At first the rider is not aware of them, so small and 
faint they are, but presently as he begins to wonder why there 
is always just enough space before him for his horse to step 
in, he realises that he is following a road. Hundreds of 
generations of passing feet have pushed aside the tufa blocks 
ever so little and made it possible to travel through that 
wilderness of stones. 

We rode by the depression called the Ghadir el Gharz, 
and at the end of two hours we met one in rags, whose name 
was Heart of God. He was extiemely glad to see us, was 
Heart of God, having been a friend of the family for years (at 
least eighty years I should judge), and extremely surprised 
when he discovered me in the cavalcade. There his surprise 
ceased, for when he heard I was English it conveyed nothing 
further to him, his mind being unburdened with the names 
and genealogies of the foreigner. He told us there was water 
close at hand and that Arab tents were not more than two hours 
away, and badeGhishghash go in peace, and might there be peace 
also upon the stranger with him. In the matter of the tents 
he lied, did Heart of God, or we misunderstood him ; but we 
found the water, a muddy pool, and lunched by it, sharing 
it with a herd of camels. Water in the Safa there is none fit 
to drink according to European canons, and for that matter 
there is none in the Jebel Dmze. There are no springs in 
the hills ; the water supply is contained in open tanks, and 
the traveller may consider himself fortunate if he be not asked 
to drink a liquid in which he has seen the mules and camels 
wallowing. Under the most favourable conditions it is sure 
to be heavily laden with foreign ingredients which boiling 
will not remove, though it renders them comparatively inno- 
cuous. The tea made with this fluid has a body and a flavour 
of its own ; it is the colour of muddy coffee and leaves a 
sediment at the bottom of the cup. Mikhail carried an 
earthenware jar of boiled water for me from camp to camp, 
and having brought him to use this precaution by refusing 
to drink of the pools and tanks we might meet by the way, 
I had no difficulty in continuing the system in the Safa. He 
and the Druzes and the muleteers drank what they found. 



IHE TEMPLE, MASHENNEJ^ 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 119 

whether in the Mountain or in the Safa, and they did not 
appear to suffer from any ill effect. Probably the germs 
contained in their careless draughts were so numerous and 
so active that they had enough to do in destroying one another. 
We rode on and on over all the stones in the world, and 
even Ghishghash fell silent or spoke only to wonder where the 
tents of the Ghiath might be. Khittab opined that when we 
reached the Kantarah, the Arch, we should catch sight of 
them, and I pricked up my ears at a name that seemed to 
ipiply some sort of construction. But the Kantarah was nothing 
more than a rise in the ground, a little higher than the rest 
and no less stony. There are many such ; leading up to the 
crest of most of them is a track by which the Arabs creep 
on their stomachs to look out for foes, hidden themselves 
behind the small black pile that has been erected as a per- 
manent bastion on the summit. In summer the Safa is 
swept with raiders. Big tribes like the 'Anazeh ride through 
to deal a sudden blow at some enemy to the south or north, 
harrying the Ghiath as they pass, and since there are exceed- 
ingly few places where water is to be found in the unparalleled 
heat of the stony waste, the raiders and such men of the 
Ghiath as are still in the plain have no choice but to frequent 
at dusk the same muddy holes, and the days and nights of the 
Ghiath are dogged in consequence by constant terror till 
the great tribes go east again to the Hamad. There was 
no sign of tents to be seen from the Kantarah, and it began 
to seem probable that we should spend a waterless night 
among the stones under the clear frosty sky, when about an 
hour before sunset Khittab exclaimed that he could see the 
smoke of camp fires to the north-west. We rode a good way 
back, making a semicircle of our course, and got to the tents 
at nightfall after a journey of nine hours. With the goats and 
camels who were returning home after a laborious day's 
feeding we stumbled in over the stones, and very miserable 
the little encampment looked, though it had been so eagerly 
desired. A couple of hundred pounds would be a hand- 
some price for all the worldly goods of all the Ghiath , they 
have nothing but the black tents and a few camels and the 
coffee-pots, and if they had more it would be taken from them 



t2o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

in a midsummer ghazu. They live by bread alone — shirak 
the thin flaps that are like brown paper — and for the whole 
length of their days they wander among the stones in fear 
of their lives, save for the month or two when they come up 
to the Jebel Druze for the pasturage. 

We scattered, being a large party, and Ghishghash, my 
servants and I went to the house of the sheikh, whose name 
was Understanding. His two sons, Muhammad and Ham- 
dan, lighted a fire of thorn and camel dung that smoked 
abominably, and we sat round and watched the coffee making. 
Muhammad, being the eldest, officiated. He was skilful in 
the song of the pestle, and beat out a cheerful tattoo upon the 
mortar. His face was dark and thin and his white teeth 
shone when he smiled ; he was dressed airily in dirty white 
cotton garments, a cotton kerchief fell from the camel's 
hair rope on his head down on to his bare breast, and he spoke 
in a guttural speech which was hard to follow. Our dinner 
was of shirak and dibs ; the Ghiath are too poor to kill a 
sheep for their guest, even when he is a personage so important 
as Ghishghash. He, foolish man, was in his element. He 
preened himself and swelled with pride, combed out his 
long moustache before the admiring gaze of his hosts and 
talked without ceasing until far into the night, silly talk, 
thought I, who longed to be allowed to sleep. I had a rug 
to cover me and my saddle for a pillow, and I lay in a comer 
by the sahah, the division against the women's quarter, 
and at times I listened to a conversation which was not par- 
ticularly edifying, and at times I cursed the acrid, pungent 
smoke. Towards the middle of the night I was awakened 
by the moon that shone with a frosty brilliance into the tent. 
The fire had burnt down and the smoke had blown out ; the 
Arabs and the Druzes were lying asleep round the cold hearth ; 
a couple of mares stood peacefully by the tent pole and gazed 
with wise eyes upon their masters within, and beyond them a 
camel lay chumping among the black stones. The strange 
and silent beauty of a scene as old as the world caught at 
the heart and spurred the fancy even after sleep had fallen 
upon it again. 

Before dawn Mikhail had succeeded in making me a cup 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 121 

of tea over the fitful blaze of the thorns, and as the sun rose 
we got into the saddle, for we had far to go. " God's bright 
and intricate device " had clothed the black plain in exquisite 
loveliness. The level sun towards which we were riding 
cast a halo of gold round ev«y stone, the eastern ranges of 
volcanoes stood in clear cut outline against the cloudless sky, 
and to the north-west the snows of Anti-Libanus and Her- 
mon gleamed incredibly bright above the glittering blackness 
of the foreground. One of the Arabs was added to our party 
as a guide ; 'Awad was his name. He rode a camel, and 
from that point of vantage conversed with us in a raucous 
shout, as though to bridge the immense distance between 
rakib and faris, a camel rider and one who rides a mare. We 
were all shivering as we set out in the chill dawn, but 'Awad 
turned the matter into a jest by calling out from his camel : 
" Lady, lady ! do you know why I am cold ? It is be- 
cause I have four wives in the house ! " And the others 
laughed, for he had the reputation of being a bit of a Don Juan, 
and such funds as he possessed went to replenishing his harem 
rather than his wardrobe. 

I think we must speedily have re-entered the Ghadir el 
Gharz. After two hours' riding we crossed some rising ground 
to the south-west of the Tulul es Safa, the line of volcanoes, 
and cantered across a considerable stretch of stoneless yellow 
ground, Beida, till we came to the southern end of the lava 
bed. The lava lay on our left hand like a horrible black 
nightmare sea, not so much frozen as curdled, as though 
some hideous terror had arrested the flow of it and petrified 
the lines of shrinking fear upon its surface. But it was long 
long ago that a mighty hand had lifted the Gorgon's head be- 
fore the waves of the Tulul es Safa. Sun and frost and aeons 
of time had splintered the original forms of the volcanoes, 
rent the lava beds, shattered the precipices and obliterated 
the features of the hills. One or two terebinths had found a 
foothold in the' crevices, but when I passed they were still 
bare and grey and did nothing to destroy the general sense of 
lifelessness. 

As we rode round these frontiers of death I became aware 
that we were following a track almost as old as the hills 



122 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

themselves, a little thread of human history leading us straight 
through that forbidding land. 'Awad kept talking of a stone 
which he called El 'Abla, a word that denotes a white rock 
visible from afar, but I was so much used to names signi- 
fying nothing that I paid no attention until he stopped 
his camel and shouted : 

" Oh lady ! here it is. By the Face of God, this is El 
'Abla." 

It was no more nor less than a well stone. It bore the 
groove of the rope worn a couple of inches deep into it, and 
must have served a respectable time, since this black rock is 
extremely hard, but there was no modern well within miles 
of it. Close at hand was a big heap of stones and then another 
and another, two or three in every quarter of a mile, and 
when I looked closely I perceived that they were built, not 
thrown together. Some of them had been opened by Arabs 
seeking for treasure, and where the topmost layers had been 
thus removed a square shallow space lay revealed in the centre 
of the mound, carefully constructed of half-dressed blocks. 
*Awad said that as far as he knew nothing had ever been found 
in these places, whatever they might have contained formerly. 
Clearly the mounds were made to mark the line of that an- 
cient road through the wilderness. 'Awad stopped again a 
few hundred yards further at some black rocks almost 
flush with the ground, and they were like the open pages of 
a book in which all the races that had passed that way 
had written their names, in the queer script that the learned 
call Safaitic, in Greek, in Cufic, and in Arabic. Last of all 
the unlettered Bedouin had scrawled their tribe marks 
there. 

" By Shuraik son of Naghafat son of Na'fis (?) son of 
Nu'man," so ran one of them ; and another : " By Bukhalih son 
of Thann son of An'am son of Rawak son of Bukhalih He 
found the inscription of his uncle and he longed after him 
and . . . ." And there was another in a label which I did 
not copy sufficiently well to admit of its being deciphered 
with certainty. Probably it contains two names connected 
by **ibn," **son of." Above the names are seven straight 
lines which, according to Dussaud's ingenious suggestion. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 123 

may represent the seven planets.* The Greek letters spelt 
the word Hanelos, which is John, a Semitic name written 
possibly by its owner in the foreign script that he had 
learnt while he served imder the Roman eagles ; the Cufic 
sentences were pious ejaculations calling down a blessing on 
the traveller who had paused to inscribe them. So each 
man according to his kind had left his record and departed 
into the mists of time, and beyond these scratches on the 
black rocks we know nothing of his race, nor of his history, 
nor of the errand that brought him into the inhospitable 
Ghadir el Gharz. As I copied the phrases they seemed like 
the murmur of faint voices from out the limbo of the for- 
gotten past, and Orpheus with his lute could not have 
charmed the rocks to speak more clearly of the generations 
of the dead. All the Safa is full of these whisperings ; 
shadows that are nothing but a name quiver in the quiver- 
ing air above the stones, and call upon their God in divers 
tongues. 

I copied in haste, for there was no time to lose that day. 
The Druzes stood round me impatiently, and 'Awad shouted, 
Yallah, yallah! ya sitt," which being interpreted means, 
Hurry up ! *' We rode on to the eastern limit of the Safa, 
turned the comer of the lava bed, and saw the yellow plain of 
the Ruhbeh before us. I know, because I have observed it 
from the Jebel Druze, that it stretches for a great distance to 
the east ; but, when we reached it, it seemed no wider than half a 
mile, and beyond it lay a wonderful lake of bluish misty water. 
The little volcanoes far away to the east rose like islands out 
of the sea, and were mirrored in the water at their feet ; yet 
as we rode towards that inland flood, its shores retreated 
before us, for it was but a phantom sea whereat the phantom 
hosts of the Safa may fitly assuage their thirst. Then on 
the brink of the lava hills we caught sight of a grey tower, 
and in the plain below it we saw a domed and whitewashed 
shrine, and these were the Khirbet el Beida and the Mazar of 
Sheikh Serak. Sheikh Serak inherits his position as guardian 

• Dussaud, ** Mission Scientific," p. 64. The translation of the 
inscriptions I owe to the kindness of Dr. Littmann, who will include 
the original copies in his ** Semitic Inscriptions." 



(C 



124 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of the Ruhbeh from Zeus Saphathenos, who is in turn the 
direct heir to the god El, the earliest divinity of the Safa. 
His business is to watch over the crops, which in good years 
the Arabs sow round his soul's dwelling place ; he is respected 
by Moslem and by Druze alike, and he holds a well-attended 
yearly festival which had fallen about a fortnight before I 
came. The shiine itself is a building of the Haurtn tj'pe.with 



a stone roof supported on transverse arches. Over the doors 
there is a carved lintel taken from the ruins of the White 
Castle . 

But I could scarcely stay while my men assembled here, 
so eager was I to see the Kal'at el Beida — Khirbeh or 
Kal'ah, ruin or castle, the Arabs call it either indifferently. 
I left the Druzes to pay such respects as were due to 2eus 
Saphathenos or whoever he might be, and cantered off to the 
edge of the lava plateau. A deep ditch lay before the lava, 
so full of water that I had to cross it by a little bridge of planks ; 
Habrb was there watering his mule, that admirable mule 
which walked as fast as the mares, and, entrusting my horse to 
him, I hastened on over the broken lava and into the fortress 
court. There were one or two Arabs sauntering through it, 
but they paid as little attention to me as I did to them. This 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 125 

was it, the famous citadel that guards a dead land from an 
unpeopled, the Safa from the Hamad. Grey white on the 
black platform rose the walls of smoothly dressed stones, the 
ghostly stronghold of a world of ghosts. Whose hands reared 
it, whose art fash- 
ioned the flowing 
scrolls on door-post . 
and lintel, whose 
eyes kept v^ from 
the tower, cannot 
yet be decided with 
any certainty. 
Hanelos and Shuraik 
and Bukhalih may 
have looked for it as 
they rounded the 
comer of the Wadi 
el Gharz, and per- 
haps the god El took 
it under his protec- 
tion, and perhaps 
the prayers of the 
watchman were 
turned to some 
distant temple, and 
offered to the dei- 
ties of Greece and 

Rome. A thousand ^ beida 

unanswered, unan- 
swerable, questions spring to your mind as you cross the 
threshold. 

De Vog'i6 and Oppenheim and Dussaud have described 
the Khirbet el Beida, and any one who cares to read their 
words may know that it is a square enclosure with a round 
tower at each corner, a round bastion between the towers 
and a rectangular keep against the south wall ; that its door- 
ways are carved with wonderlul flowing patterns, scrolls and 
leaves and flowers, with animals striding through them; and 
that it is probably an outlying fortress of Rome, built between 



1 26 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the second and fourth centuries. The fact remains that we 
are not certain of its origin, anymore than we are certain of 
the origin of the ruins near it at Jebel Ses, or of Mshitta, or of 
any of the buildings in the western desert. There are resem* 
blances between them all, and there are marked differences, 
just as there are resemblances between Kal'at el Beida and 
the architecture of the Hauran, and yet what stonecutter 
of the Mountain would have let his imagination so outstrip 
the classic rule as did the man who set the images of the 
animals of the desert about the doors of the White Castle ? 
There is a breath of something that is strange to neighbouring 
art, a wilder, freer fancy, not so skilled as that which created 
the tracery of Mshitta, cruder, and probably older. It is 
all guess work ; the desert may give up its secrets, the history 
of the Safa and the Ruhbeh may be pieced together from the 
lettered rocks, but much travel must be accomplished first 
and much excavation on the Syrian frontiers, in Hira perhaps, 
or in Yemen. I would only remark that the buildings at 
Kal'at el Beida cannot as they stand belong to one and the 
same period. The keep is certainly a later work than the 
curtain walls of the fort. While these are built with mortar, 
like the Roman camp at Kastal and the fortress at Muwakkar, 
the keep is of dry masonry resembling that which is universal 
in the Hauran, and in its walls are set carved stones which 
were assuredly not executed for the positions they occupy. 
Even the decoration about the main door of the keep is of 
borrowed stones ; the two superimposed carved blocks of the 
lintel do not fit each other, and neither fits the doorway. But 
the only conclusion I venture to draw is, that the two sugges- 
tions of origin that have been made by archaeologists, the one 
that the place was a Roman camp, the other that it was the 
Ghassanid fortress, may both be true. 

The edge of the lava plateau lies a few feet above the 
plain. Along this natural redoubt are other buildings be- 
sides the White Castle, but none of them are of the same 
architectural interest. Their walls are roughly made of 
squared tufa blocks laid dry, whereas the castle is of a grey 
stone, and part of it is constructed with mortar. The only 
building of any importance that I visited lay a little to the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



north and had been roofed after the IJauran manner with stone 
slabs laid on transverse arches. At intervals along the lava 
bed there were small towers like sentry boxes guarding the 
approach to the castle, and these, too, were of dry masonry. 

A couple of hours' 
halt was all that we 
could allow ourselves, 
for we had to be in 
sight of our encamp- 
ment before the dusk 
closed in at the risk 
of passing the night 
in the open Safa. So 
after devouring 
hastily the remains 
of the five cliickens 
we had bi ought, 
from Umm Ruweik, 
flavoured by stalks 
of wild onions that 
Awad had found in 
the lava, we set oflt 
homewards. We just 
accomplished the 
ride of 4I hours in 
time, that is we saw 
the smoke of the 
camp fires before 
night fell, and got 

our direction there- kal'at el beida. dooe of keep 

by. A series of 

spaces cleared of stones led us to the camp. These open places 
are the marah (tent marks) of the 'Anazeh, who used to camp in 
the Safa before the Druzes established themselves in the Moun- 
tain over a hundred years ago. The marali, therefore, have 
remained visible after at least a century, and will remain, pro- 
bably, or many centuries more. There was a strong cold 
wind that evening, and the main wall of the tent had been 
shifted round to shelter us the better ; but for all that we passed 



128 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

a comfortless night, and the cold woke me several times to an 
uneasy sense of having fallen asleep on an ant hill. How the 
Arabs contrive to collect so many fleas among so few pos- 
sessions is an insoluble mystery. There was hardly a suitable 
place for them to lodge in, except the tent walls themselves, 
and when those walls are taken down they must show skill 
and agility beyond the common wont of fleas in order to get 
themselves packed up and carried off to the next camping 
ground, but that they are equal to the task every one knows 
who has spent a night in a house of hair. After two nights 
with the Ghiath our own tents seemed a paradise of luxury 
when we returned to them the next afternoon, and a bath 
the utmost height to which a Sybaritic life could attain, 
even when taken in a temperature some degrees below 
freezing point. 

During our ride homewards an incident occurred which 
is worth recording, as it bears on Druze customs. The sect, 
as has been remarked before, is divided into initiated and 
uninitiated. To the stranger the main difference between the 
two is that the initiated abstain from the use of tobacco, and 
I had noticed in the evening I spent at Saleh that none of 
Muhammad en Nassar's family smoked. I was therefore 
surprised when Faiz, finding himself alone with Mikhail and 
me, begged the former for a cigarette, and I apologised for 
having omitted to offer him one before, saying that I had 
understood smoking to be forbidden to him. Faiz blinked 
his crooked eyes, and replied that it was as I had said, and that 
he would not have accepted 'a cigarette if another Druze had 
been in sight, but that since none of his co-religionists were 
present he felt himself at liberty to do as he pleased. He 
begged me, however, not to mention to his brother this lapse 
from virtue. That night in the mak'ad of Umm Ruweik 
the three sheikhs and I laid many plans for a further explora- 
tion of the Safa, settled the number of camels I was to 
take with me, and even the presents which were to reward 
the escort at the end of the journey. Faiz and Ahmed and 
Khittab shall certainly be of the expedition if the selecting o\ 
it lies in my hands. 

Next morning at 8.30 we started on our three days' ride to 



MOULDINGS FROM KALA'AT EL BEIDA AND FROM PALMYRA. 
THE UPRIGHT BLOCK IS FROM KALA'AT EL BEIDA 



THE DESERT AND TTIE SOWN 131 

Damascus. Of Umm Ruweik I need only add that it tooV 
exactly four days to scrape together sufficient money among 
the inhabitants for the changing o* a gold piece. We hati 
brought a bag of silver and copper coins with us from Jeni- 
salem, but when it 
was exhausted we 
had the utmost diffi- 
culty in paying our 
debts — this is also 
one of the Hints to 
Travellers that Mik- 
hail urged me to 
embody in the book 
I was to write. We 
rode by enchanting 
slopes, covered where 
the snow had melted 
with the sky-blue 
Iris Histrio, and 
spent an hour or 
two at Shakka, which 
was one of the prin- 
cipal scenes of de 
Vogue's archEcologi- 
cal work. The basi- 
lica which figures as 
almost perfect in his 
book is now fallen 

completely into ruin, . a . s a 

only the facade remaining, but the Kaisarieh slill stands, 
and the monastery which he believes to be one of the oldest 
monastic buildings in existence. We rode by Hit, an inter- 
esting village containing a fine pre-Arabic house in which 
the sheikh lives, and camped at Bathaniyyeh in a frost that 
sent me shivering to bed. It was here that a running stream 
was completely frozen. Next day I made a circuit to visit 
Hayat, where there is a lovely Kalybeh, published by deVogiie, 
and a castle, that I might fill up some gaps in my former 
journey and see what sort of buildings are to be found on the 



132 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

northern slopes of the mountain, if I could do no more. The 
old villages are rapidly filling up, and in a few years little 
trace of their monuments will remain. 3o we came down 
irito the plain, joined the Leja road from SUahbah to Damas- 
cus at Lahiteh, and pursued our mules to Brak, the furthest 
village of the Hauran. There is a military post at Brak held 
by a score of soldiers ; just before we reached it we met a 
little Druze girl who cowered by the roadside and wept with 
fear at the sight of us. " I am a maid ! " she cried, " I am a 
maid ! " Her words threw an ominous shadow upon the 
Turkish regime under which we were now. to find ourselves 
again. Almost opposite the fort we passed two Druzes re- 
turning from Damascus. They gave me a friendly greeting, 
and I said : 

*' Are you facing to the Mountain ? " 
They said : ** By God ! may God keep you ! " 
I said : " I come from thence — salute it for me," and they 
answered : 

" May God salute you ! go in peace ! " 
It is never without a pang that the traveller leaves the 
Druze country behind, and never without registering a vow 
to return to it as soon as may be. 

Having passed under the protection of the Sultan, I found 
that my road next day lay across a really dangerous bit of 
country. The Circassians and Turks of Brak (the Turks were 
charming people from the northern parts of Asia Minor) dis- 
suaded me strongly from taking the short cut across the hills 
to Damascus, so strongly that I had almost abandoned the 
idea. They said the hills were infested by robbers and pro- 
bably empty of Arab encampments at this time of year, 
so that the robbers had it all their own way. Fortunately 
next morning we heard of a company of soldiers who were 
said to be riding to Damascus across the hills, and the report 
encouraged us to take the same path. We never saw them, 
and I do not believe that they had any real existence ; on 
the other hand, we did see some black tents which gave us 
confidence at the worst bit of the road, and the robbers must 
have been otherwise engaged for they did not appear. But I 
noted with interest, firstly, that desert life comes to within an 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 133 

hour or two of Damascus, a fact I had not been able to ob- 
serve before when I went by the high road, and secondly 
that the Sultan's peace, if peace it can be called, ceases 
almost at the walls of the chief city of Syria. We crossed the 
Nahr el 'Aw5j, which is the Pharpar, and reached soon after 
midday the Circassian village of Nejha, where I stopped to 
lunch under a few poplars, the first grove of trees I had seen 



since we left Salt. Whether you ride to Damascus by a 
short cut or by a high road, from the Hauran or from 
Palmyra, it is always further away than any known place. 
Perhaps it is because the traveller is so eager to reach 
it, the great and splendid Arab city set in a girdle of fruit 
trees and filled with the murmur of running water. But 
if he have only patience there is no road that will not end 
at last; and we, too, at the last came to the edge of the 
apricot gardens and then to the Bawabet Ullah, the Gates of 
God, and so passed into the Meidan, the long quarter ol 
shops and khans stretching out like the handle to a great spoon, 
in the bowl of which lie the minarets and domes of the ricli 
quarters. By four o'clock I was lodged in the Hotel Victoria, 
apd had a month's post of letters and papers in my hands. 



CHAPTER VIJ 

When I had come to Damascus five years before, my chief 
counsellor and friend — a friend whose death will be deplored 
by many a traveller in Syria — was Liitticke, head of the 
banking house of that name and honorary German consul. 
It was a chance remark of his that revealed to me the place 
that the town had and still has in Arab history. " I am 
persuaded," said he, " that in and about Damascus you may 
see the finest Arab population that can be found anywhere. 
They are the descendants of the original invaders who came 
up on the first great wave of the conquest, and they have kept 
their stock almost pure." 

Above all other cities Damascus is the capital of the 
desert. The desert stretches up to its walls, the breath of it is 
blown in by every wind, the spirit of it comes through the 
eastern gates with every camel driver. In Damascus the 
sheikhs of the richer tribes have their town houses ; you may 
meet Muhammad of the Haseneh or Bassan of the Beni 
Rashid peacocking down the bazaars on a fine Friday, in 
embroidered cloaks and purple and silver kerchiefs fastened 
about their brows with camels' hair ropes bound with gold. 
They hold their heads high, these Lords of the Wilderness, 
striding through the holiday crowds, that part to give them 
passage, as if Damascus were their own town. And so it is, 
for it was the first capital of the Bedouin khalifs outside the 
Hejaz, and it holds and remembers the greatest Arab tra- 
ditions. It was almost the first of world-renowned cities 
to fall before the irresistible chivalry of the desert which 
Muhammad had called to arms and to which he had given 
purpose and a battle-cry, and it was the only one which 
remained as important under the rule of Islam as it had been 
under the empire of Rome. Mu'awiyah made it his capital, 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 135 

and it continued to be the chief city of IslSm until the fall of 
the house of Ummayah ninety years later. It was the last 
of Moslem capitals that ruled in accordance with desert tra- 
ditions. Persian generals placed the Beni Abbas upon their 
throne in Mesopotamia, Persian and Turkish influences were 
dominant in Baghdad, and with them crept in the fatal habits 
of luxury which the desert had never known, nor the early 
khalifs who milked their own goats and divided the spoils 
of their victories among the Faithful. The very soil of Meso- 
potamia exhaled emanations fatal 
to viriUty. The ancient ghosts of 
Babylonian and Assyrian palace 
intrigue rose from their muddy 
graves, mighty in evil, to over- 1 
throw the soldier khalif, to strip 
him of his armour and to tie him ' 
hand and foot with silk and gold. 
Damascus had been innocent of 
them ; Damascus, swept by the 
clean desert winds, had ruled the 

empire of the Prophet with some in the paimvrene desert 
of the Spartan vigour of early days. She was not a parvenue 
like the capitals on the Tigris ; she had seen kings and em- 
perors within her walls, and learnt the difference between 
strength and weakness, and which path leads to dominion 
and which to slavery. 

When I arrived I was greeted with the news that my 
journey in the Hauran had considerably agitated the mind 
of his Excellency Nazim Pasha, Vali of Syria ; indeed it was 
currently reported that this much exercised and delicately 
placed gentleman had been vexed beyond reason by my 
sudden appearance at Salkhad and that he had retired to 
his bed when I had departed beyond the reach of Yusef Effendi's 
eye, though some - suggested that the real reason for his 
Excellency's sudden indisposition was a desire to avoid taking 
part in the memorial service to the Archduke Serge. Be that 
as it may, he seat me on the day of my arrival a polite 
message expressing his hope that he might have the pleasure 
of making my acquaintance. 



136 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

I confess my principal feeling was one of penitence when I 
was ushered into the big new house that the Vali has built for 
himself at the end of Salahiyyeh, the suburb of Damascus that 
stretches along the foot of the bare hills to the north of the 
town. I had a great wish to apologise, or at any rate to prove 
to him that I was not to be regarded as a designing enemy. 
These sentiments were enhanced by the kindness with which 
he received me, and the respect with which he inspires those 
who come to know him. He is a man of a nervous tempera- 
ment, always on the alert against the difficulties with which his 
vilayet is not slow to provide him, conscientious, and I should 
fancy honest, painfully anxious to reconcile interests that are 
as easy to combine as oil with vinegar, the corner of his eye 
fixed assiduously on his royal master who will take good 
care that so distinguished a personality as Nazim Pasha 
shall be retained at a considerable distance from the shores 
of the Bosphorus. The Vali has been eight years in Damas- 
cus, the usual term of office being five, and he has evidently 
made up his mind that in Damascus he will remain, if no ill 
luck befall him, for he has built himself a large house and 
planned a fine garden, the laying out of which distracts his 
mind, let us hope, from preoccupations that can seldom 
be pleasant. One of his safeguards is that he has been 
actively concerned with the construction of the Hejaz rail- 
way, in which the Sultan takes the deepest interest, and until 
it is completed or abandoned he is sufficiently useful to be 
kept at his post.* The bazaar, that is public opinion, does 
not think that it will be abandoned, in spite of the opposition 
of the Sherif of Mecca and all his clan, who will never be con- 
vinced of the justice of the Sultan's claim to the khalifate 
of Islam nor willing to bring him into closer touch with the 
religious capitals. The bazaar backs the Sultan against the 
Sherif and all other adversaries, sacred or profane. The wheels 
of the Turk grind slowly and often stop, but in the end they 
grind small, especially when the grist is Arab tribes rendered 
peculiarly brittle by their private jealousies and suspicions 

* Since I wrote tliese sentences, a turn of the political wheel has 
brought him down, and he is now reduced to an unimportant post in 
the island of Rhodes. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 139 

and pretensions. Turkish policy is like that of which Ibn 
Kulthiim sang when he said ; 

When our mill is set down among a people they are as flour before 

our coming. 
Our meal cloth is spread eastwards of Nejd and the grain is the whole 

tribe of Kuda'a. 
Like guests you alighted at our door and we hastened our hospitality 

lest you should turn on us. 
We welcomed you and hastened the welcoming : yea, before the 

dawn, and our mills grind small. 



Nazim Pasha, though he has been eight years in Sjn'ia, 
talks no Arabic. We in Europe, who speak of Turkey as 
though it were a homogeneous empire, might as well when we 
speak of England intend the word to include India, the Shan 
States, Hongkong and Uganda. In the sense ot a land in- 
habited mainly by Turks there is not such a country as 
Turkey. The parts of his dominions where the Turk is in a 
majority are few ; generally his position is that of an alien 
governing, with a handful of soldiers and an empty purse, a 
mixed collection of subjects hostile to him and to each other. 
He is not acquainted with their language, it is absurd to 
expect of him much sympathy for aspirations political and 
religious which are generaily made known to him amid a 
salvo of musketry, and if the bullets happen to be directed, as 



140 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

they often are, by one unruly and unreasonable section of the 
vilayet at another equally unreasonable and unruly, he is 
hardly likely to feel much regret at the loss of life that may 
result. He himself, when he is let alone, has a strong sense of 
the comfort of law and order. Observe the internal arrange- 
ments of a Turkish village, and you shall see that the Turkish 
peasant knows how to lay down rules of conduct and how 
to obey them. I believe that the best of our own native local 
officials in Egypt are Turks who have brought to bear under 
the new regime the good sense and the natural instinct for 
government for which they had not much scope under the old. 
It is in the upper grades that the hierarchy of the Ottoman 
Empire has proved so defective, and the upper grades are 
filled with Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, and personages of 
various nationalities generally esteemed in the East (and not 
without reason) untrustworthy. The fact that such men as 
these should inevitably rise to the top, points to the reason 
of the Turk's failure. He cannot govern on wide lines, though 
he can organise a village community ; above all he cannot 
govern on foreign lines, and unfortunately he is brought more 
and more into contact with foreign nations. Even his own 
subjects have caught the infection of progress. The Greeks 
and Armenians have become merchants and bankers, the 
Syrians merchants and landowners ; they find themselves 
hampered at every turn by a government which will not 
realise that a wealthy nation is made up of wealthy subjects. 
And yet, for all his failure, there is no one who would 
obviously be fitted to take his place. For my immediate 
purpose I speak only of Syria, the province with which I am 
the most familiar. Of what value are the pan-Arabic asso- 
ciations and the inflammatory leaflets that they issue 
from foreign printing presses ? The answer is easy : they 
are worth nothing at all. There is no nation of Arabs ; 
the Syrian merchant is separated by a wider gulf from 
the Bedouin than he is from the Osmanli, the Syrian 
country is inhabited by Arabic speaking races all eager to be 
at each other's throats, and only prevented from fulfilling 
their natural desires by the ragged half fed soldier who draws 
at rare intervals the Sultan's pay. And this soldier, whether 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 141 

he be Kurd or Circassian or Arab from Damascus, is worth 
a good deal more than the hire he receives. Other armies 
may mutiny, but the Turkish army will stand true to the 
khalif ; other armies may give way before suffering and 
privation and untended sickness, but that of the Sultan will 
go forward as long as 
it can stand, and fight 
as long as it has arms, 
and conquer as long 
as it has leaders. 
There is no more 
wonderful and pitiful 
sight than a Turkish 
regiment on the 
march : greybeards 
and half-fledged 
youths, ill-clad and 
often barefoot, 
pinched and worn — 
and indomitable. Let 
such as watch them 
salute them as they 
pass : in the days 
when war was an art 
rather than a science, 
of that stuff the con- 
querors of the world ^^^ kUBBET DL KHAINEH 

were made. .1.1 

But I have left the Governor of Syria waitmg far too long. 
We talked, then, in French, a language with which he was 
imperfectly acquainted, and from time to time a Syrian 
gentleman helped him in Turkish over the stUes and pitfalls 
of the foreign tongue. The Syrian was a rich Maronite land- 
owner of the Lebanon, who happened to be in good odour at 
Government House though he had but recently spent a year 
in prison. He had accompanied me upon my visit and was 
then and there appointed by the Vali to be my acerone in 
Damascus ; Selim Beg was his name. The talk was princi- 
pally of archjeology, I purposely insisting on my mterest m 



142 THE DESERT AND THE SOWS 

that subject as compared with the politics of the Mountain 
and the Desert, to which we thus avoided any serious allusion. 
The Vali was affability itself. He presented me with certain 
photographs of the priceless manuscripts of the Kubbet el 
Khazneh in the Great Mosque, now closed forever to the public 
eye, and promised me the rest of the series. To that end 
a bowing personage took my English address and noted it 
carefully in a pocket book, and I need scarcely say that that 
was the last any one heard of the matter. Presently the 
Vali announced that Madame Pasha and the children were 
waiting to see me, and I followed him upstairs into a sunny 
room with windows opening on to a balcony from which you 
could see all Damascus and its gardens and the hills beyond. 
There is only one Madame Pasha, and she is a pretty, sharp- 
featured Circassian, but there was another (gossip says the 
favourite) who died a year ago. The children were engaging. 
They recited French poems to me, their bright eyes quick to 
catch and to respond to every expression of approbation 
or amusement ; they played tinkling polkas, sitting very 
upright on the music stool with their pig-tails hanging down 
their velvet backs. The Pasha stood in the window and 
b(*amrd upon them, the Circassian wife smoked cigarettes and 
bowed whenever she caught my eye, a black slave boy at the 
door grinned from car to ear as his masters and mistresses, 
who were also his school-mates and his play-fellows, accom- 
plished their tasks. I came away with a delightful impression 
of pretty smiling manners and vivacious intelligence, and 
expressed my pleasure to the Pasha as we went down 
stairs. 

'* Ah ! •' said he politely, " if I could have them taught 
Knglish I But what will you ? we cannot get an English- 
woman to agree with our customs, and I have only the Greek 
lady whom you saw to teach them French." 

I had indeed noticed the Cirook woman, an underbred little 
person, whose bearing could !iot escape attention in the grace- 
ful company upstairs, but I was not slow to expatiate on the 
exooUonce of the French she spoke — may Heaven forgive me ! 
The Pasha shook his head, 

** II I could got an Englisliwoman I ** said he. Unfor- 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 145 

tunately I had no one to suggest for the post, nor would he 
have welcomed a suggestion. 

Before I left, two distinguished personages arrived to 
have audience of the Vali. The first was a man by com- 
plexion almost a negro, but with an unmistakable look of race 
and a sharp quick glance. 

He was the Amir 'AbduUah I 

Pasha, son of 'Abd ul K3dir, 

the great Algerian, by a I 

negro slave. The second 
was Sheikh Ilassan Nakshi- 
bendi, hereditary chief — 
pope, I had almost said — 
of an orthodoi order of 
Isl3m famous in Damascus, 
where its principal Tek- 
yah is situated. (Now 
a Tekyah is a religious 
institution for the housing 
■ of mendicant dervishes and 
other holy persons, some- 
thing like a monastery, only 
that there is no vow of 
chastity imposed upon its 
members, who may have 
as many wives as they 
choose outside the Tekyah ; 

Sheikh Hassan himself had °*^" '"' '"" tkkvah 

the full complement of four.) All the wOy ecclesiastic's 
astuteness shone from the countenance of this worthy. 1 
do not know that his wits were especially remarkable, but his 
unscrupulousness must have supplemented any deficiencies, 
or his smile belied him. The meeting with these two accom- 
plished my introduction to Damascus society. Both of them 
extended to me a warm invitation to visit them in their houses, 
the Tekyah or anywhere I would, and I accepted all, but I 
went to the Amir 'Abdullah first. 

Or rather, I went first to the house of his elder brother, 
the Amir 'Ali Pasha, because it was there that 'Abd ul ^adir 



146 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

had lived, and there that he had sheltered, during the black 
days of the massacres in i860, a thousand Christians. About 
his name there lingers a romantic association of courage and 
patriotism, crowned by a wise and honoured age full of 
authority and the power lent by wealth, for the 'Abd ul 
Kadir family own all the quarter in which they reside. The 
house, like any great Damascus house, made no show from 
the outside. We entered through a small door in a narrow 
winding street by a dark passage, turned a couple of corners 
and found ourselves in a marble court with a fountain in the 
centre and orange trees planted round. All the big rooms 
opened into this court, the doors were thrown wide to me, and 
coffee and sweetmeats were served by the groom of the cham- 
bers, while I admired the decoration of the walls and the water 
that bubbled up into marble basins and flowed away by marble 
conduits. In this and in most of the Damascene palaces 
every window sill has a gurgling pool in it, so that the air that 
blows into the room may bring with it a damp freshness. 
The Amir 'Ali was away, but his major domo, who looked like 
a servant de bonne maison and had the respectful familiarity 
of manner that the Oriental dependant knows so well how to 
assume, showed us his master's treasures, the jewelled sabre 
presented to the old Amir by Napoleon III, 'Abd ul Kadir's 
rifles, and a pair of heavy, silver-mounted swords sent as a 
gift last year by 'Abd ul 'Aziz ibn er Rashid — there is a tra- 
ditional friendship, I learnt, between the Algerian family and 
the Lords of Hail. He showed us, too, pictures of 'Abd ul 
Kadir ; the Amir leading his cavalry, the Amir at Versailles 
coming down the steps of the palace with Napoleon, bearing 
himself as one who wins and not as one who loses, the Amir 
as an old man in Damascus, always in the white Algerian 
robes that he never abandoned, and always with the same 
grave and splendid dignity of countenance. And last I was led 
over a little bridge, that crossed a running stream behind the 
main court, into a garden full of violets, through which we passed 
to stables as airy, as light and as dry as the best European 
stables could have been. In the stalls stood two lovely AraD 
mares from the famous studs of the Ruwalla and a well-bred 
mule almost as valuable as they. There was a sad-looking 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 147 

man who accompanied us upon our roimd, though he did not 
seem to belong to the estabhshment ; his face was so gloomy 
that it arrested my attention, and I asked Selim Beg who he was. 
A Christian, he answered, of a rich family, who had been 
persecuted to change his religion and had sought sanctuary 
with the Amir 'A'i. I heard no more of his story, but he fitted 
into the picture that 'Abd ul Kadir's dwelling-place left upon 
the mind : the house of gentlefolk, well kept by well-trained 
servants, provided with the amenities of life and offering 
protection to the distressed. 

On the following morning I went to see the Am'ir 'Ab- 
dullah, who lived next door to his brother. I found there a 
nephew of 'Abdullah's, the Amir Tahir, son of yet another 
brother, and my arrival was greeted with satisfaction because 
there happened to be staying with them a distinguished guest 
whom I should doubtless like to see. He was a certain Sheikh 
Tahir ul Jezairi, a man much renowned for his learning 
and for his tempestuous and revolutionary politics. Sum- 
moned hastily into the divanned and carpeted upper room 
in which we were sitting, he entered like a whirlwind, and 
establishing himself by my side poured into my ear, and into 
all other ears in the vicinity, for he spoke loud, his distress 
at not being permitted by the Vali to associate freely with gifted 
foreigners such as the American archaeologists or even myself 
(" God forbid ! " I murmured modestly), and a great many 
other grievances besides. When this topic had rim com- 
paratively dry, he sent the Amir Tahir to seek for some pub- 
lications of his own with which he presented me. They dealt 
with Arabic and the allied languages, such as Nabataean, 
Safaitic and Phoenician, the alphabetical signs of which he had 
arranged very carefully and well in comparative tables, though 
he had not an idea of the signification of any one of the tongues 
except his own. A curious and typical example of oriental 
scholarship was Sheikh Tahir, but from the samples I had of his 
conversation I am not sure that the sympathies of those who 
respect peace and order would notbewith the Vali. Presently 
another notable dropped in, Mustafa Pasha el Barazi, a member 
of one of the four leading families of Hamah, and the whole 
company fell to talking of their own concerns, Syrian politics 



148 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and other matters, while I listened and looked out of window 
over the Amir's garden and the stream at its foot, and wondered 
what had made me so fortunate as to be taking part, in a 
Damascene morning call. At length the Amir 'Abdullah and 
his nephew took me aside and discussed long and earnestly a 
great project which I had broached to them and which I will not 
reveal here. And when the visit was over Selim and Mustafa 
and I went out and limched at an excellent native restaurant 
in the Greek bazaar, sitting cheek by jowl with a Bedouin 
from the desert and eating the best of foods and the choicest 
of Damascus cream tarts for the sum of eighteenpence between 
the three of us, which included the coffee and a liberal tip. 

There was another morning no less pleasant when I went 
with the faithful Selim to pay my respects on a charming old 
man, the most famous scribe in all the city, Mustafa el Asba'i 
was his name. He lived in a house decorated with the ex- 
quisite taste of two hundred years ago inlaid with coloured 
marbles and overlaid with gesso duro worked in patterns 
like the frontispiece of an illuminated Persian manuscript and 
painted in soft rich colours in which gold and golden brown 
predominated. We were taken through the reception rooms 
into a little chamber on an upper floor where Mustafa was 
wont to sit and write those texts that are the pictures of the 
Moslem East. It was hung round with examples from cele- 
brated hands ancient and modern, among which I recog- 
nised that of my friend Muhammad 'Ali, son of Beha Ullah 
the Persian prophet, to my mind the most skilful penman of 
our day, though Oriental preference goes out to another Persian 
of the same religious sect, Mushkin Kalam, and him also I 
count among my friends. We sat on cushions and drank 
coffee, turning over the while exquisite manuscripts of all 
dates and countries, some written on gold and some on silver, 
some on brocade and some on supple parchment (several 
of these last being pages of Kufic texts abstracted from the 
Kubbet el Khazneh before it was closed), and when we rose 
to go Mustafa presented me with three examples of his own 
art, and I carried them off rejoicing. 

Later in the afternoon we drove out to the valley of the 
Barada, Selim and I, and called on a third son of 'Abd ul 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 149 

KSdir : " Amir Omar, princ d'AM ul Kadir " ran his visiting 
card, printed in the Latin character. He is the country 
gentleman of the family. 'Ali has been carried into spheres 
of greater influence by his marriage with a sister of 'Izzet 
Pasha, the mighty Shadow behind the Throne in Constanti- 
nople ; 'Abdullah has 
always a thousand 
schemes on hand that 
keep him to the town, 
but 'XJmar is content 
to hunt and shoot 
and tend his garden 
and lead the simple 
life. So simple was 
it that we found him 
in a smoking cap and 
a dressing gown and 
carpet sUppers walk- 
ing the garden alleys. 
He took us into his 
house, which, like the 
other houses of his 
family, was full of 
flowers, and up to a 
pavilion on the roof, 
whither his pointer 

followed us with a mushkin kalau 

friendly air of com- 
panionship. There amid pots of hyacinths and tulips we 
watched the sun set over the snowy hills and talked of desert 
game and sport. 

Nor let me, amid all this high company, forget my hum- 
bler friends : the Afghan with black locks hanging about his 
cheeks, who gave me the salute every time we met (the Amir 
of Afghanistan has an agent in Damascus to look after the 
welfare of his subjects on the pilgrimage) ; the sweetmeat 
seller at the door of the Great Mosque, who helped me once or 
twice through the mazes of the bazaars and called to me each 
time I passed him ; " Has your Excellency no need of your 



ISO THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Dragoman to-day ? " ; or the dervishes of Sheikh Hassan's 
Tekyah, who invited me to attend the Friday prayers. 
Not least the red-bearded Persian who keeps a tea shop in the 
Com Market and who is a member of the Beha'i sect among 
which I have many acquaintances. As I sat drinking glasses 
of delicious Persian tea at his table, I greeted him in his 
own tongue and whispered : "I have been much honoured 
by the Holy Family at Acre." He nodded his head and 
smiled and answered : " Your Excellency is known to 
us," and when I rose to go and asked his charge he replied : 
" For you there is never anything to pay." I vow there is 
nothing that so warms the heart as to find yourself admitted 
into the secret circle of Oriental beneficence — and few things 
so rare. 

Upon a sunny afternoon I escaped from the many people 
who were always in waiting to take me to one place or 
another and made my way alone through the bazaars, ever 
the most fascinating of loitering grounds, till I reached the 
doors of the Great Mosque. It was the hour of the afternoon 
prayer. I left my shoes with a bed-ridden negro by the 
entrance and wandered into the wide cloister that runs along 
the whole of the west side of the Mosque. A fire some ten 
years ago, and the reparations that followed it, have robbed 
the Mosque of much Ol its beauty, but it still remains the 
centre of interest to the archaeologist, who puzzles over the 
traces of church and temple and Heaven knows what be- 
sides that are to be seen embedded in its walls and gates. 
The court was half full of afternoon shadow and half of sun, 
and in the golden light troops of little boys with green willow 
switches in their hands were running to and fro in noiseless 
play, while the Faithful made their first prostrations before 
they entered the Mosque. I followed them in and watched 
them fall into long lines down nave and aisle from east to 
west. All sorts and grades of men stood side by side, from 
the learned doctor in a fur-lined coat and silken robes to the 
raggedest camel driver from the desert, for Islam is the only 
republic in the world and recognises no distinctions of wealth 
or rank. When they had assembled to the number of three 
or four hundred the chant of the Imam began. " God ! ** 
he cried, and the congregation fell with a single movement 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



15^ 



upon their faces and remained a full minute in silent adoration 
till the high chant began again. " The Creator of this world 
and the next, of the heavens and of the earth. He who leads 
the r ghteous in the true path and the wicked to destruction : 
God ! " And as the almighty 
name echoed through the colon- 
nades where it had sounded for 
ncEir two thousand years, the 
listeners prostrated themselves 
again, and for a moment all 
the sanctuary was silence. 

That night I went to an 
evening party at the invita- 
tion of Shekib el Arslan, a 
Dnize of a well known family 
of the Lebanon and a poet 
foreby — have I not been pre- 
sented with a copy of his latest 
ode ? The party was held in 
the Maidan, at the house of 
some com merchants, who are 
agents to the Hauran Druzes 
in the matter of com selling 
and know the pohtics of the 
Mountain we'l. There were 
twelve or fourteen persons pre- 
sent. Shekib and I and the 
com merchants {dressed as be- 
fits well-to-do folk in blue silk 
robes and embroidered yellow 
turbans) and a few others, I 
know not who they were. The room was blessedly empty of 
all but carpets and a divan and a brazier, and this was note- 
worthy, for not even the 'Abd ul Kadir houses are free from 
blue and red glass vases and fringed mats that break out 
like a hideous disease in the marble embrazures and on the 
shelves of the gesso duro cupboards. Shekib was a man of 
education and had experience of the world ; he had even 
travelled once as far as London. He talked in French until 
one of our hosts stopped him with : 




152 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" Oh, Shekib ! you know Arabic, the lady also. Talk 
therefore that we can understand." 

His views on Turkish politics were worth hearing. 

" My friends," said he, " the evils under which we suffer 
are due to the foreign nations who refuse to allow the Turkish 
empire to move in any direction. When she fights they take 
the fruits of her victory from her, as they did after the war 
with the Greeks. What good is it that we should conquer 
the rebellious Albanians ? the Bulgarians alone would gain 
advantage and the followers of our Prophet (stc, though he 
was a Druze) could not live under the hand of the Bulgarians 
as they would not live under the hand of the Greeks in Crete. 
For look you, the Moslems of Crete are now dwelling at 
Salahiyyeh as you know well, and Crete has suffered by their 
departure." 

There was so much truth in this that I who listened wished 
that the enemies of Turkey could hear and would deeply 
ponder the point of view of intelligent and well-informed 
subjects of the Ottoman Empire. 

My last day in Damascus was a Friday. Now Damascus 
on a fine Friday is a sight worth travelling far to see. All 
the male population dressed in their best parade the streets, 
the sweetmeat sellers and the auctioneers of second-hand 
clothes drive a roaring trade, the eating shops steam with 
dressed meats of the most tempting kind, and splendidly 
caparisoned mares are galloped along the road by the river 
Abana. Early in the afternoon I had distinguished visitors. 
The first to wait on me was Muhammad Pasha, Sheikh of 
Jeriid, an oasis half way upon the road to Palmyra. Jerudi 
is the second greatest brigand in all the land, the greatest 
(no one disputes him the title) being Fayyad Agha of Karya- 
tein, another oasis on the Palmyra road. Fayyad, I fancy, 
is an evil rogue, though he had been polite enough to me 
when 1 had passed his way, but Jerudi's knavery is of a 
different brand. He is a big, powerful man with a wall 
eye ; he was a mighty rider and raider in his day, for he 
has Arab blood in his veins, and his grandfather was of the 
high stock of the 'Anazeh, but he has grown old and heavy 
and gouty, and his desire is for peace, a desire difficult to 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 153 

attain, what with his antecedents and the outlying position 
of Jerud, which makes it the natural resort of all the turbulent 
spirits of the desert. He must keep on terms both with his 
Arab kin and with the government, each trying to use his 
influence with the other, and he the while seeking to profit 
from both, with his wall eye turned towards the demands 
of the aw, and his good eye fixed on his own advantage. 



if I understand him. Justly irate consuls have several times 
demanded of the Vali his immediate execution ; but the Vali, 
though he not infrequently signifies his disapproval of some 
markedly outrageous deed by a term of imprisonment, can never 
be brought to take the further step, saying that the govern- 
ment has before now found Jerudi a useful man, and no doubt 
the Vali is the best judge. To his great sorrow Muhammad 
Pasha has no sons to inherit his very considerable wealth, and 
the grasshopper, in the shape of a tribe of expectant nephews, 
has come to be a burden on his years. Recently he married a 
daughter of Fayyad's house, a girl of fifteen, but she has not 
brought him children. A famous tale about him is current 
in Damascus, a tale to which men do not, however, allude 
in his presence. At the outbreak of the last Druze war 



154 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Jeriidi happened to be enjoying one of his interludes ot ad- 
hesion to the powers that be, and because he knew the Moun- 
tain well he was sent with thirty or forty men to scout and 
report, the army following upon his heels. It happened 
that as he passed through a hamlet near Orman, his old 
acquaintance, the sheikh of the village, saw him, and invited 



him in to eat. And as he sat in the mak'ad awaiting his 
dinner he heard the Druzes discussing outside whether they 
had not better profit by this opportunity to kill him as an 
officer of the Turkish army; and he desired earnestly to go 
away from that place, but he could not, the rules of pohte 
society making it incumbent upon him to stay and eat the 
dinner that was a-cooking. So when it came he despatched 
it with some speed, for the discussion outside had reached a 
stage that inspired him with the gravest anxiety, and having 
eaten he mounted his horse and rode away before the Dnizes 
had reached a conclusion. And as he went he found himself 
suddenly between two fires ; the Turkish army had come 
up and the firet battle of the war had begun. He and his 
men, discouraged and perplexed, took refuge behind some 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 155 

rocks, and, as best they might, they made their way back 
one by one to the extreme rear of the Turkish troops. The 
Druzes have composed a song about this incident ; it begins : 
Jerudi's golden mares are famed, 
And fair the riders in their stumbling fiigtt I 
Muhammad Pasha, tell thy lord 
Where are his soldiers, where his arms I 
This piece is not often sung before him. 
My next visitor was Sheikh Hassan Nakshibendi, he of 
the sleek and cimning clerical face. He contrived to make 



THE TEKVAII OF NAKSHIBENDI 

good use even of the ten minutes he spent in the inn parlour, 
for noticing a gaudy ring on Selim Beg'S finger he asked to 
see it, and liked it so well that he put it in his pocket saying 
that Selim would certainly wish to give a present to his 
khSnum, the youngest of his wives, whom he had married a 
year or two before. Selim replied that in that case we must 
go at once to his house in Salahiyyeh that the present might 
be offered, and both Sheikh Hassan and Muhammad Pasha 
having their victorias at the doorj we four got into them and 
drove off to Salahiyyeh through the bright holiday streets. 
At the door of the house Selim announced that I ought first 
to take leave of the Vali, who lived close at hand, and bor- 
rowed Jeriidi's carriage that we might go in style. Then 
said Selim to Muhammad Pasha : 



156 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" Are you not coming with us ? " But the question was 
put in sarcasm, for he knew well that Jerudi was going through 
a period of disgrace and that he had but recently emerged from 
a well-merited imprisonment. 

Jerudi shook his head and drawing near to us, seated in 
his victoria, he whispered : 

" Say something in my favour to the Pasha." 

We laughed and promised to speak for him, though Selim 
confided to me as we drove away that when he had been in 
disgrace (" entirely owing to the intrigues of my enemies"), 
not a man had come forward to help him, while now that he 
was in favour every one begged for his intervention ; and he 
drew his frock coat round him and lent back against the 
cushions of Jerudi's carriage with the air of one who is proudly 
conscious that he is in a position to fulfil scriptural injunctions 
to the letter. 

Nazim Pasha was on his doorstep taking leave of the com- 
mander-in-chief. When he saw us he came down the steps 
and called us in with the utmost friendliness. The second 
visit to his house (he had been to see me in between) was much 
less formal than the first. We talked of the Japanese War, a 
topic never far from the lips of my interlocutors, great or 
small, and I made bold to ask him his opinion. 

" Officially," said he, " I am neutral." 

" But between friends ? " 

" Of course I am on the side of the Japanese," he an- 
swered. And then 'he added : " It is you who have gained 
by their victory." 

I replied : " But will you not also gain ? " 

He answered gloomily : " We have not gained as yet. 
Not at all in Macedonia." 

Then he asked how I had enjoyed my visit to Damascus. 
Selim replied hastily : 

" To-day she has had a great disappointment." 

The Vali looked concerned. 

" Yes," continued Selim, " she had hoped to see a chief 
of brigands, and she has found only a peaceful subject of 
your Excellency." 

" Who is he ? " said Nazim 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 157 

" Muhammad Pasha Jerudi," answered SelJm. The good 
word had been spoken very skilfully. 

When we returned to Sheikh Hassan's house we related 
this conversation to the subject of it, and Jerudi pulled a wry 
face, but expressed himself satisfied. Sheikh Hassan then 
took me to see his wife — his fifth wife, for he had divorced 
one of the legal four to marry her. He has the discretion to 
keep a separate establishment for each, and I do not question 
that he is repaid by the resulting peace of his hearths. There 



were three women in the inner room, the wife and another 
who was apparently not of the household, for she hid her face 
under the bed-clothes when Sheikh Hassan came in, and a 
Christian, useful in looking after the male guests (there were 
others besides Jeriidi and Sellm) and in doing commissions in 
the bazaars, where she can go more freely than her sister 
Moslems. The harem was shockingly untidy. Except when 
the women folk expect your visit and have prepared for it, 
nothing is more forlornly unkempt than the r appearance.' 
The disorder of the rooms in which they live may partly 
be accounted for by the fact that there are neither cupboards 
nor drawers in them, and all possessions are kept in large 
green and gold boxes, which must be unpacked when so much 
as a pocket-handkerchief is needed, and frequently remain ■ 
unpacked. Sheikh Hassan's wife was a young and pretty 
woman, though her hair dropped in wisps about her face and 
neck, and a dirty dressing-gown clothed a figure which had, 
alas 1 already fallen into ruin. 



158 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

But the view from Nakshibendi's balcony is immortal. 

The great and splendid city of Damascus, with its gardens 
and its domes and its minarets, lies spread out below, and 
beyond it the desert, the desert reaching almost to its gates. 
And herein is the heart of the whole matter. 

This- is what I know of Damascus ; as for the churches 
and the castles, the gentry can see those for themselves. 



CHAPTER VIII 

The Vali had inquired of me closely whither I was going 
from Damascus, and when I 1 old him that Ba'albek was my 
goal he had replied that he nr \st certainly send a small body 
of armed men to guard so distinguished a traveller. There- 
upon I had answered quickly, so as to avoid further discussion, 
that I should go by train. But as I had in reality no inten- 
tion of adopting that means of progression it was necessary to 
make an early start if I would journey alone. We left the 
city on a bright and sunny morning ; the roads were full of 
cheerful wayfarers, and our horses tugged at the bits after the 
week's rest. We passed by the Amir 'Umar's house in the 
Wadi Barada, and saw that nobleman enjoying the morning 
sun upon his roof. He shouted down' to me an invitation 
to enter, but I replied that there was business on hand, and 
that he must let me go. 

"Go in peace ! " he answered. " Please God some day 
we may ride together." 

" Please God ! " said I, and " God requite you ! " 
A mile or two further we came to a parting of the ways 
and I altered my route and struck straight into the Anti- 
Libanus the better to avoid the attentions of all the official 
personages who had been warned to do me honour. We rode 
up the beautiful valley of the Barada, which is full of apricots 
(but they were not yet in flower), crossed the river above Suk 
Wadi Barada, a splendid gorge, and journeyed over a plain 
between snowy mountains to Zebdany, famous for its apples. 
Here we pitched a solitary camp in a green ^meadow by a 
spring, the snowy flanks of Hermon closing the view to the 
south and the village scattered over the hill slopes to the 
north, and no one in Zebdany paid any attention to the 
two small tents. Next day we crossed the Anti-Libanus 



i6o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

in a howling wind ; a very lovely and enjoyable ride it was 
nevertheless, but a long stage of eight and a quarter 
hours. There were Latin inscriptions cut at intervals in the 
rocks all down the valley that falls into the Yahfufa at Janta 
— I imagine we were on the Roman road from Damascus to 
Ba'albek. The last long barren miles were done in driving 
rain and we arrived wet through at Ba'albek. It was almost 
too windy to pitch a camp, and yet my soul revolted against 
the thought of a hotel ; fortunately, Mikhail suggested a 
resource. He knew, said he, a decent Christian woman who 
lived at the entrance of the village and who would doubtless 
give us a lodging. It happened as he had predicted. The 
Christian woman was delighted to see us. Her house contained 
a clean empty room which was speedily made ready for my 
camp furniture, Mikhail established himself and his cooking 
gear in another, the wind and the rain beat its worst against 
the shutters and could do us no harm. 

The name of liiy hostess was Kurunfuleh, the Carnation 
Flower, and she was wife to one Yusef el 'Awais, who is at 
present seeking his fortune in America, where she wishes to 
join him. I spent an hour or two with her and her son and 
daughter and a few relations who had dropped in for a little 
talk and a little music, bringing their lutes with them. They 
told me that they were very anxious about their future. The 
greater part of the population of Ba'albek and round about 
belongs to an unorthodox sect of Islam, called the Metawileh, 
which has a very special reputation for fanaticism and igno- 
rance. These people, when thfv heard of the Japanese vic- 
tories, would come and shake their fists at their Christian 
neighbours, saying : " The Christians are suffering defeat ! 
See now, we too will shortly drive you out and seize your 
goods." Mikhail joined in, and declared that it was the same 
thing at Jerusalem. There, said he (I know not with what 
truth), the Moslems had sent a deputation to the Mufti, saying : 
"The time has come for us to turn the Christians out." But 
the Mufti answered : "If you raise a disturbance the nations 
of Europe will step in, for Jerusalem is the apple of their 
eye " (so the Mufti affirmed), '' and they will take the whole 
land and we shall be worse off than before." I tried to com- 



SUK V/iVl BARADA 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 163 

fort Kurunfuleh by saying that it was improbable that the 
Christians of Syria should suffer persecution, the country 
being so well known and so much frequented by tourists, 
who would not fail to raise an outcry. The yearly stream of 
tourists is, in fact, one of the best guarantees of order. Now 
Kurunfuleh was a Lebanon woman, and I asked her why she 
did not return to her own village, where she would be under 
the direct protection of the Powers and exempt from danger. 
She said : 

" Oh lady, the house here is taken in my husband's name, 
and I cannot sell it unless he return, nor yet leave it empty, 
and moreover the life in the Lebanon is not like the life in the 
plain, and I, being accustomed to other things, could not 
endure it. There no one has any business but to watch his 
neighbour, and if you put on a new skirt the village will whisper 
together and mock ^ at you saying, ' Hast seen the lady ? ' 
Look you, I will show you what it is like to live in the Lebanon. 
I eat meat in Ba'albek once a day, but they once a month. 
They take an onion and divide it into three parts, using one 
part each evening to flavour the burghul (cracked wheat), 
and I throw a handful of onions into the dish every night. 
Life pinches in the Lebanon." 

Life pinches so straitly that all of the population that 
can scrape together their passage money are leaving for the 
United States, and it is next to impossible to find labour to 
cultivate the corn, the mulberry and the vine. There is no 
advancement, to use the Syrian phrase. The Lebanon pro- 
vince is a cut de sac, without a port of its own and without 
commerce. True, you need not go in fear of death, but of 
what advantage is an existence that offers no more than the 
third of an onion at supper time? As usual, the Sublime 
Porte has been too many for the Powers. It has accorded 
all they asked, oh yes, and gladly, but the concessions that 
seemed to lay open the path of prosperity have in reality 
closed the gates for ever upon those who should have profited 
by them. 

Next day the rain had not abated. I received the Com- 
missioner of Police, who had run me to earth — ^he proved 
to be a charming man — ^and paid a visit to a large family of 



1 64 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Portuguese who were staying at the hotel hard by my lodging. 
Monsieur Luiz de Sommar, with his wife and daughters and 
nephews, had come up from Jerusalem to Damascus by the 
Jebel Druze. I had heard of their arrival at Sweida while I 
was at Salkhad, and had wondered how they had gained 
admission. The story was curious and it redounds to the credit 
of Monsieur de Sommar, while it shows how eager the Govern- 
ment still is to keep the Mountain free from the prying eyes of 
tourists. The Portuguese family had met Mr. Mark Sykes 
at 'Amman, and he had advised them to change their route so 
as to pass through Kanawat in the Jebel Druze, saying they 
would have no difficulty in obtaining permission to do so. 
Monsieur de Sommar went guilelessly forward, but when he 
reached Sweida, which is the chief post of the Government, 
the Kaimakam stopped him and intimated politely but firmly 
that he must return the way he had come. He replied as 
firmly that he would not, and sent telegrams to his Consul 
in Damascus and his Minister at Constantinople. Thereupon 
followed an excited exchange of messages, the upshot of which 
was that he was to be allowed to proceed to Kanawat if he 
would take a hundred zaptiehs with him. The country, said 
the Kaimakam, was extremely dangerous — that country 
through which, as I know well, a woman can ride with no escort 
but a Druze boy, and might ride alone, even if she had her 
saddle-bags full of gold. But Monsieur de Sommar was a 
man of judgment. He replied that he was quite willing to 
take the hundred zaptiehs, but not one piastre piece should 
they receive from him. Thus countered, the Kaimakam 
changed his note and diminished the escort till it numbered 
twenty, with which guard the de Sommars reached Kanawat 
in safety. I congratulated them on their exploit, and myself 
on having sought my permit from Fellah ul 'Isa, and not from 
the Vali of Syria. 

In spite of the rain, the day at Ba'albekwas not mis-spent. 
Since my last visit the Germans had excavated the Temple of 
the Sun and laid bare altars, fountains, bits of decoration and 
foundations of churches, which were all of the deepest interest. 
Moreover, the great group of temples and enclosing walls 
set between the double range of mountains, Lebanon and 



^trm- 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 167 

Anti-Libanus, produces an impression second to none save the 
Temple group of the Athenian Acropohs, which is easily beyond 
a peer. , The details of Ba'albek are not so good as those at 
Athens ; the matchless dignity and restraint of that glory 
among the creations of architects are not to be approached, nor 
is the splendid position on the hill top overlooking the blue 



sea and the Gulf of Salamis to be rivalled. But in general 
effect Ba'albek comes nearer to it than any other mass of build- 
ing, and it provides an endless source of speculation to such as 
busy themselves with the combination of Greek and Asiatic 
genius that produced it and covered its doorposts, its archi- 
traves and its capitals with ornamental devices infinite in variety 
as they are lovely in execution. For the archa'ologist there is 
neither clean nor unclean. All the works of the human 
imagination fall into their appointed place in the history of 
art, directing and illuminating his own understanding of it. 
He is doubly blest, for when the outcome is beautiful to the 
eyes he returns thanks; but, whatever the restilt, it is sure to 
furnish him with some new and unexpected link between one 
art and another, and to provide him with a further rung in the 



i68 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

ladder of history. He is thus apt to be well satisfied with 
what he sees, and above all, he does not say : " Alas, alas ! 
these dogs of Syrians ! Phidias would have done so and so ; " 
for he is glad to mark a new attempt in the path of artistic 
endeavour, and a fresh breath moving the acanthus leaves 
and the vine scrolls on capital and frieze. 

Our departure from Ba'albek was marked by a regrettable 
occurrence — ^my dog Kurt was found to have disappeared in 
the night. Unlike most Syrian pariah dogs, he was of a very 
friendly disposition, he was also (and in this respect he did not 
differ from his half- fed clan) insatiably greedy ; the probability 
was, therefore, that he had been lured away with a bone and 
shut up till we were safely out of the road. Habib set off in 
one direction through the village, Mikhail in another, while 
the Commissioner of Police, who had appeared on the agitated 
scene, tried to pour balm upon my wounded feelings. After 
a few minutes Habib reappeared with Kurt, all wag, behind 
him on a chain. He had found him, he explained breathlessly, 
in the house of one who had thought to steal him, fastened 
with this very chain : 

" And when Kurt heard my voice he barked, and I went 
into the yard and saw him. And the lord of the chain de- 
manded it of me, and by God ! I refused to give it him and 
struck him to the earth with it instead. God curse him for a 
thievish Metawileh ! And so I left him." 

I have, therefore, the pleasure to record that the Metawileh 
are as dishonest a sect as rumour would have them to be, but 
that their machinations can be brought to nought by vigilant 
Christians. 

We rode down the wide and most dreary valley between 
Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. I might have gone by train to 
Homs, and eke to liamah, but I preferred to cross from side 
to side of the valley as the fancy took me, and visit such places 
of interest as the country had to show, and this could only 
be done on horseback. North of Ba'albek all Syria was new 
to me ; it marked an epoch, too, that we had reached the 
frontier of the Palestine Exploration Map. I now had recourse 
to Kiepert's small but excellent sheet, which I had abstracted 
from the volume of Oppenheim that had been left at Saleh. 



COLUMNS OF THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN. BA'ALCEK 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 171 

There is no other satisfactory map until, at a line some thirty 
miles south of Aleppo, Kiepert's big Kleinasien 1-400,000 
begins ; when the American Survey publishes its geographical 
volume the deficiency will, I hope, be rectified. After four 
and a half hours we came to Lebweh, where one of the principal 
sources ol the Orontes bursts out of the earth in a number of 
springs, very beautiful to see ; and here we were overtaken by 
two soldiers who had been sent after us by the Kaimakam 
with a polite inquiry as to whether I would not like an escort. 
I sent one back and kept the other, fearing to hurt the Kai- 
makam's feelings ; Derwish was the man's name, helpful and 
pleasant he proved, as indeed were all in the long series of his 
successors who accompanied us imtil I stepped into the train 
at Konia. Some of them added greatly to the pleasure of the 
journey, telling me many tales of their experiences and adven- 
tures as we rode together hour by hour. They enjoyed the 
break in garrison life that was thus afforded them, and they 
enjoyed also the daily fee of a mejideh (4s. roughly) which was 
so much more certain than the Sultan's pay. I gave them 
besides a little tip when they reached the term of their services, 
and they fed themselves and their horses on provisions and 
grain that I shrewdly suspect were taken from the peasantry 
by force, a form of official exaction that the traveller is power- 
less to prevent. 

At Lebweh are the ruins of a temple built in the massive 
masonry of Ba'albek. A podium of four great courses of stones 
crowned by a simple moulding, a mere splay face, is all that is 
left of it. The village belongs to a man called Asad Beg, a 
rich Metawlleh and brother to a certain Dr. Haida, who is a 
ubiquitous person well known in north Syria. I never go to 
Damascus without meeting him and never meet him without 
satisfaction, for he is well read in Arabic literature and excep- 
tionally intelligent. He has recently been engaged in some 
job on the Mecca railway, and he is, so far as I know, the only 
example in his sect of a man who has received a good education 
and risen to a certain distinction. 

We pitched camp at Ras Ba'albek, where there is an excel- 
lent spring in a gorge of the barren eastern hills an hour and a 
half from Lebweh. The frost had ceased to pinch us of a 



172 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

morning, praise be to God ! but it was still cold. When we 
rose at dawn the sleet was beating against the tents and we 
rode all day in the devil's own wind. This was March 8 ; 
Spring travels slowly into Northern Syria. I sent my camp 
by the direct path and rode with Derwish to a monument that 
stands on some rising ground in the middle of the Orontes 
valley and which in that desolate expanse is seen for a day's 
journey on either side. It is a tall tower of massive stone- 
work capped by a pyramid and decorated with pilasters and 
a rough frieze carved in low relief with hunting scenes and 
trophies of arms. The Syrians call it Kamu'a Hurmul, the 
Tower of Hurmul, after the village close by, and the learned are 
of opinion that it commemorates some great battle of the 
Roman conquest, but there is no inscription to prove them 
right or wrong. It lies two hours to the west of Ras Ba'albek. 
Buffeted by the furious wind we rode on another hour and a 
half to a line of little mounds protecting the air-holes of an 
underground water channel — a Kanat it would be called in 
Persian, and I believe is so called in Arabic. Another two and 
a half hours brought us to Kseir, the mules came up a quarter 
of an hour later, and we camped hard by the cemetery outside 
the ugly mud-built town. The wind dropped after sunset, 
and peace, moral and physical, settled down upon the camp. 
Even Mikhail's good humour had been somewhat disturbed 
by the elements, but Habib had come in as smiling as ever, and 
I am glad to remember that I, feeling my temper slipping from 
me down the gale, had preserved the silence of the philosopher. 
Muhammad the Druze was no longer with us, for he had been 
left behind m Damascus. Whether through his own fault 
or by reason of a conspiracy against him among the others, 
difficulties and quarrels were always arising, and it was better 
to sacrifice one member of the staff and preserve the equanimity 
of the caravan. My contract with him ceased at Damascus ; 
we parted on the best of terms, and his place was taken by a 
succession of hirelings, indistinguishable, as far as I was con- 
cerned, the one from the other. 

The valley of the Orontes v/as formerly an Arab camping 
ground and is still frequented in dry seasons by a few skeikhs 
of the Haseneh and of the 'Anazeh, particularly by the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 175 

Ruwalla branch of the latter tribe, but the bulk of the Bedouin 
have been driven out by cultivation. The Kamu'a Hurmul 
bears the record of them in the shape of ancient tribe marks. 
It was more curious to reflect that we were in the southern 
headquarters of the Hittites, whoever they may have been ; 
the famous examples of their as yet undecyphered script 
which were found at Hamah are now lodged in the museum 
at Constantinople, where they have baffled all the efforts of the 
learned. The present population of Kseir is composed partly 
of Christians and partly of the members of a sect called the 
Nosairiyyeh. They are not recognised by Islam as orthodox, 
though, like all the smaller sects, they do their best to smooth 
away the outward differences between themselves and the 
dominant creed. They keep the tenets of their faith secret 
as far as possible, but Dussaud has pried into the heart of them 
and foimd them full of the traces of Phoenician tradition. 
Living apart in moimtain fastnesses that have remained almost 
inviolate, the Nosairiyyeh have held on to the practices of 
ancient Semitic cults, and they occupy an honourable position 
in the eyes of Syriologists as the direct descendants of paganism, 
while remaining themselves profoundly ignorant of their 
ancestry. Native report speaks ill of their religion, following 
the invariable custom by which people whisper scandal of what 
they are not allowed to understand, and I was told that the 
visible signs of it as expressed by the conduct of the sect left 
everything to be desired. Dussaud has, however, washed away 
the stain that lay upon their faith, and my experience of their 
dealings with strangers leads me to adopt an attitude of bene- 
volent neutrality. I spent five days in the mountains west 
of Homs and a week near Antioch, in which districts they are 
chiefly to be found, and had no reason to raise a complaint. 
Kurt was not so well pleased with the company in which he 
found himself at Kseir. He kept up a continual barking all 
night ; I could almost have wished him back in the court- 
yard of the MetawUeh. 

Next day the weather was gloriously fine. With Mikhail 
I made a long circuit that I might visit Tell Nebi Mendu, which 
is the site of Kadesh on the Orontes, the southern capital of 
the Hittites. Kadesh in its day must have been a fair city. 



176 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

The mound on which it was built rises out of a great corn- 
growing plain ; to the saath the wide valley of the Orontes 
runs up between the twin chains of Lebanon, to the west the 
Jebel Nosairiyyeh piotect it from the sea, and between the 
ranges of Lebanon and the Nosairiyyeh mountains there is a 
smiling lowland by which merchants and merchandise might 
pass down to the coast. Northwards to the horizon stretch 
the plains of Coelo Syria ; the steppes of the Palmyrene desert 
bound the view to the east. The foot of the tell is washed by 
the young and eager Orontes (the Rebellious is the meaning of 
its Arabic name), and in the immediate foregroimd lies the 
lake of Homs, six miles long. The mound of Kadesh is ap- 
proached by grassy swards, and among willow trees a mill- 
wheel turns merrily in the rushing stream. The site must 
have been inhabited almost continuously from Hittite times, 
for history tells of a Seleucid city, Laodocia ad Orontem, and 
there are traces of a Christian town. Each succeeding genera- 
tion has built upon the dust of those that went before, and the 
mound has grown higher and higher, and doubtless richer and 
richer in the traces of them that lived on it. But it cannot be 
excavated thoroughly owing to the miserable mud hovels that 
have inherited the glories of Laodocia and Kadesh, and to the 
little graveyard at the northern end of the village which, 
according to the Moslem prejudice, must remain undisturbed 
till Gabriel's trump rouses the sleepers in it. I noticed frag- 
ments of columns and of very rough capitals lying about 
among the houses, but my interest, while I stood upon the 
mound, was chiefly engaged in picturing the battle fought 
at Kadesh by the Hittite king against the Pharaoh of his time, 
which is recorded in a famous series of hieroglyphs in Egypt. 
A quarter of an hour's ride to the north of Tell Nebi Meridu 
there is a singular earthwork which is explained by the Arabs 
as being the Sefinet Nuh (Noah's Ark) and by archaeologists 
as an Assyrian fortification, and the one account of its origin 
has as much to support it as the other. It is a heap of earth, 
four-square, its sides exactly oriented to the points of the com- 
pass, standing some forty to fifty feet above the level of the 
plain and surrounded by a ditch, the angles of which are still 
sharp. We rode to the top of it, and found it to be an immense 



CAPITALS IN THE TEMPt-E OF JUPITER, BAALBEK 



r^ 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 179 

platform of solid earth, about an eighth of a mile square, the 
four comers raised a little as if there had been tovters upon 
them, and tower and rampart and platform were alike covered 
with springing com. Whoever raised it, Patriarch or Assyrian, 
must have found it mighty tiresome to constract, but until a 
few trenches have been cut across it the object that directed 



his labours will rest undetermined. We rode down to the 
lake and lunched by the lapping water on a beach of clean 
shells. There are two mounds close to the shores, another a 
mile or two out of Homs, while the castle of Homs itself was 
built upon a fourth. They have all the appearance of being 
artificial, and probably contain the relics of to\vns that were 
sisters to Kadesh. The fertile plain east of the Orontes must 
always have been able to support a large population, larger 
perhaps in Hittite days than in our own. The day's ride had 
lasted from 9.30 to 2 o'clock, with three-quarters of an hour 
at Tell Nebi Mendu and half an hour by the lake. 

We approached Homs through the cemeteries. That it 
should be preceded by a quartt ■ of a mile of graves is not a 
pecuharity of Homs, but a const mt feature of oriental town*. 



i8o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Every city is guarded by battalions of the dead, and the hfe 
of the town moves in and out through a regiment of turbaned 
tombstones. It happened to be a Thursday when we came 
to Horns, and Thursday is the weekly Day of All Souls in the 
Mohammedan world. Groups of veiled women were laying 
flowers upon the graves or sitting on the mounds engaged in 
animated chat — the graveyard is the pleasure ground of Eastern 
women and the playground of the children, nor do the gloomy 
associations of the spot affect the cheerfulness of the visitors. 
My camp was pitched in the outskirts of the city on a stretch 
of green grass below the ruins of barracks built by Ibrahim 
Pasha and destroyed immediately after his death by the Syrians, 
who were desirous of obliterating every trace of his hated 
occupation. All was ready for me, water boiling for tea and 
a messenger from the Kaimakam in waiting to assure me 
that my every wish should have immediate attention, in spite 
of which I do not like the town of Homs and never of free will 
shall I camp in it again. This resolution is due to the behaviour 
of the inhabitants, which I will now describe. 

The conduct of the Kaimakam was unexceptionable. I 
visited him after tea, and found him to be an agreeable Turk, 
with a little of the Arabic tongue and an affable address. 
There were various other people present, turbaned muftis 
and grave senators — we had a pleasant talk over our coffee. 
When I rose to go the Kaimakam offered me a soldier to escort 
me about the town, but I refused, saying that I had nothing to 
fear, since I spoke the language. I was wrong : no knowledge 
of Arabic would be sufficient to enable the stranger to express 
his opinion of the people of Homs. Before I was well within the 
bazaar the persecution began. I might have been the Pied 
Piper of Hamelin from the way the little boys flocked upon my 
heels. I bore their curiosity for some time, then I adjured 
them, then I turned for help to the shopkeepers in the bazaars. 
This was effective for a while, but when I was so unwary as to 
enter a mosque, not only the little boys but every male in- 
habitant of Homs (or so it seemed to my fevered imagination) 
crowded in after me. They were not annoyed, they had no 
wish to stop me, on the contrary they desired eagerly that I 
should go on for a long time, that they might have a better 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN i8i 

opportunity of watching me ; but it was more than I could 
bear, and I fled back to my tents, pursued by some two hundred 
pairs of inquisitive eyes, and sent at once for a zaptieh. Next 
morning I was wiser and took the zaptieh with me from the 
first. We climbed to the top of the castle mound to gain a 
general idea of the town. Though it has no particular archi- 
tectural beauty, Iiloms has a character of its own. It is built 



of tufa, the big houses standing round courtyards adorned 
with simple but excellent patterns of white limestone let into 
the black walls. Sometimes the limestone is laid in straight 
courses, making with the tufa alternate bars of black and white 
like the fagade of Siena cathedral-. The mind is carried back 
the more to Italy by the minarets, which are tall square towers, 
for all the world like the towers of San Gimignano, except that 
those of Homs are capped by a white cupola, very pretty and 
effective. All that remained of the castle was Arabic in origin, 
and so were the fortifications round the town, save at one place 
to the east, where the Arab work seemed to rest on older founda- 
tions. I saw no mass of building of pre-Mohammedan date but 
one, a brick ruin outside the Tripoli gate which was certainly 
Roman, the sole relic of the Roman city of Emesa. The castle 
mound is also outside the town, and when I had completed 



1 82 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

my general survey we entered by the western gate and went 
sight-seeing. This is a process which takes time, for it is con- 
stantly interrupted by pressing invitations to come in and drink 
coffee. We passed by the Turkman Jami'a, where there are a 
couple of Greek inscriptions built into the minaret and a sar- 
cophagus, carved with bulls' heads and garlands, that serves 
as a fountain. The zaptieh Was of opinion that I could not do 
better than pay my respects to the Bishop of the Greek Ortho- 
dox Church, and to his palace I went, but found that I was 
still too early to see his lordship. I was entertained, how- 
ever, on jam and water and coffee, and listened to the lamenta- 
tions of the Bishop's secretary over the Japanese victories. 
The Greek Orthodox Church held penitential services each 
time that they received the news of a Russian defeat, and at 
that moment they were kept busy entreating the Almighty 
to spare the enemies of Christendom. The secretary deputed 
a servant to show me the little church of Mar Elias, which con- 
tains an interesting marble sarcophagus with Latin crosses 
carved on the body of it and Greek crosses on the lid, a later 
addition, I fancy, to a classical tomb. Outside the church I 
met one called 'Abd ul Wahhab Beg, whom I had seen at the 
Seraya when I was calling on the Kaimakam, and he invited 
me into his house, a fine example of the domestic architecture 
of Homs, the harem court being charmingly decorated with 
patterns in limestone and basalt. When I came out, the zap- 
tieh, who had grasped what sort of sight it was I wished to 
see, announced that he would take me to the house of one 
Hassan Beg Na'i, which was the oldest in Homs. Thither we 
went, and as we passed through the narrow but remarkably 
clean streets I noticed that in almost every house there was a 
loom, whereon a weaver was weaving the striped silk for which 
Homs is famous, while down most of the thoroughfares were 
stretched the silken yams. The zaptieh said that the workers 
were paid by the piece, and earned from seven to twelve piastres 
a day (one to two shillings), a handsome wage in the East, 
Living was cheap, he added ; a poor man could rent his house^ 
that is a single room, for a himdred piastres a year, and feed 
his family on thirty to forty piastres a week or even less if 
he had not many children. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOW^l 185 

Hassan Beg NS'i was a red-haired and red-bearded man, 
with a hard-featured face of a Scotch lowland type. He was 
not at all pleased to see me, but, at the instance of the zaptieh, 
he slouched out of his bachelor quarters, where he was drinking 
a Friday morning cup of coffee with his friends, took me across 
the street to his harem, and left me with his womenkind, who 
were as friendly as he was surly. They were, indeed, delighted 



to have a visitor, for Hassan Beg is a strict master, and 
neither his wife nor his mother nor any woman that is his is 
allowed to put her nose out of doors, not even to take a walk 
through the graveyard or to drive down to the meadow by 
the Orontes on a fine summer afternoon. The harem had been 
a very beautiful Arab house on the model of the houses of 
Damascus. There werp plaster cupolas over the rooms and 
Jver the liwan {the audience haJl at the bottom of the court), 
but the plaster was chipping away and the floors and stair- 
cases crumbled beneath the feet of those that trod them. A 
marble column with an acanthus capital was built into one 
wall, and on the floor of the liwan stood a big marble capital, 
simple in style but good of its kind. It had been converted 
into a water basin, and may have done duty as a font before 



1 86 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the Arabs took Emesa and after the earlier buildings of the 
Roman town had begun to fall into decay and their materials 
to be put to other uses. I passed as I went home a fine 
square minaret, built of alternate bands of black and white. 
The mosque or the Christian church to which the tower be- 
longed had fallen ; it is reputed, said my zaptieh, to be the 
oldest tower in the town. The mosque at the entrance of 
the bazaar was certainly a church of no mean architectural 
merit. 

There was nothing more to see in Homs, and as the after- 
noon was fine I rode down to the meadow by the Orontes, 
the fashionable resort of all holiday makers in spring and 
summer. The course of the Orontes leaves Horns a good mile 
to the south-west, and the water supply is both bad and in- 
sufficient, being derived from a canal that begins at the northern 
end of the lake. The Marj ul 'Asi, the meadow of the Orontes, 
is a good type of the kind of place in which the Oriental, be 
he Turk or Syrian or Persian, delights to spend his leisure. 
"Three things there are," says an Arabic proverb, " that ease 
the heart from sorrow : water, green grass and the beauty of 
women." The swift Orontes stream flowed by swards already 
starred with daisies, where Christian ladies, most perfunctorily 
veiled, alighted from their mules under willow trees touched with 
the first breath of spring. The river turned a great Na'oura, a 
Persian wheel, which filled the air with its pleasant rumbling. 
A coffee maker had set up his brazier by the edge of the road, 
a sweetmeat seller was spreading out his wares by the water- 
side, and on a broader stretch of grass a few gaily dressed 
youths galloped and wheeled Arab mares. The East made 
holiday in her own simple and satisfactory manner, warmed by 
her own delicious sun. 

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to society and to 
fruitless attempts to escape from the curiosity of the towns- 
folk. It was a Friday afternoon, and no better way of spending 
it occurred to them than to assemble to the number of many 
hundreds round my tents and observe every movement of 
every member of the camp. The men were bad enough, but 
the women were worse and the children were the worst of all. 
Nothing could keep them off, and the excitement reached a 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 189 

climax ^hen 'Abd ul Hamed Pasha Draby, the richest man in 
Homs, came to call, bringing with him the Kadi Muhammad 
Said ul Khani. I could not pay as much attention to their 
delightful and intelligent conversation as it deserved, owing 
to the seethmg 
crowd that sur- 
rounded us, but 
an hour later I 
returned their call 
at the Pasha's 
fine new house at 
the gate of the 
town, accom- 
panied thither by 
at least three 
hundred people. 
I must have 
breathed a sigh 
of relief when 
the door closed 
upon my escort, 
for as I estab- 
lished myself in 
the cool and quiet 
liwan, 'Abd ul 
Hamed said : 

" Please God 
the populace 

, .J -Ul CEDARS OF LEBAj«ON 

does not trouble 

your Excellency ; for if so we will order out a regiment of 

soldiers." 

I murmured a half-hearted refusal of his offer, though I 
would have been glad to have seen those little boys shot down 
by volleys of musketry, and the Pasha added reflectively : 

" The Emperor of the Germans when he was in Damascus 
gave orders that no one was to be forbidden to come and gaze 
on him." 

With this august example before me I saw that 1 must bear 
the penalties of greatness and foreigimess without complaint. 



190 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

The talk turned on religious beliefs. I began by asking 
about the Nosairiyyeh, but the Kadi pursed his lips and 
answered : 

" They are not pleasant people. Some of them pretend to 
worship 'All and some worship the sun. They beUeve that 
when they die 
'■ ' ■ ■' their souls pass 

into the bodies of 
other men or even 
animals, as it is 
in the faiths of 
India and of 
China." 

I said: "I 

have heard a 

story that they 

tell of a man 

who owned a 

vineyard, and 

the man died 

and left it to his 

son. Now the 

young man 

worked in the 

vineyard until 

the time off the 

THE kamu'a hurmul h a t V c s t, and 

when the grapes 

,vere ripe a wolf entered in, and every evening he at^ the 

iruit. And the young man tried to hunt him forth, and . 

every evening he returned. And one night the wolf cried 

aloud : ' Shall I not eat of the grapes who planted the vines ? ' 

And the young man was astounded and he said : ' Who 

art thou ? ' The wolf replied : ' I am thy father.' The 

young man answered ; ' If thou art indeed my father, where 

did'st hide the pruning knife, for I have not found it since thy 

soul left thy body ! ' Then the wolf took him to the place 

where the pruning knife lay concealed, and he believed and 

knew it was his father." 






i 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 193 

The Kadi dismissed the evidence. 

" Without doubt they are mighty liars," said he. 

I asked him next whether he had any acquaintance with 
the Beha'is. He answered : 

" As tor the Beha'is and others like them, your Excellency 
knows that the Prophet {may God give him peace !) said that 
there were seventy-two false creeds and but one true, and J 



can tell you that of the seventy-two there are certainly fifty in 
our country." 

I replied that it appertained to prophets alone to distinguish 
the true from the false, and that we in Europe, where there 
were none to help us, found it a difficult task. 

" In Europe," said the Kadi, " I have heard that the men 
of science are your prophets." 

"And they make answer that they know nothing," I 
observed. " Their eyes have explored the stars, yet they cannot 
tell us the meaning of the word infinity." 

" If you speak of the infinite sky," remarked the KSdi, 
" we know that it is occupied by seven heavens." 

" And what beyond the seventh heaven ? " 

" Does not your Excellency know that the number one is 
the beginning of all things ? " said he. " When you have told 



194 '^HE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

me what comes before the number one, I will tell you what 
lies beyond the seventh heaven." 

The Pasha laughed and said that if the Kadi had 
finished his argument he would like to ask me what was the 
current opinion in Europe in the matter of thought-reading. 
" For," said he, " a month ago a ring of price was stolen in my 
house and I could not find the thief. Now a certain Effendi 
among my friends, hearing of my case, came to me and said : 
* I know a man in the Lebanon skilful in these things.' I said : 
' Do me the kindness to send for him.' And the man came, 
and he sought in Horns, until he foimd a woman gifted with 
second sight, and he worked spells on her until she spoke and 
said : * The thief is so-and-so, and he has taken the ring to his 
house.' And we sought in the house and found the jewel. 
This is my experience, for the event happened under my 
eyes." 

I replied that thought-readers in the Lebanon made a 
better use of their gifts than any I had heard of in London, 
and the Pasha said meditatively : 

" It may be that the woman of the bazaar had a complaint 
against the man in whose house we found the ring — God alone 
knows, may His name be exalted ! " 

And so we left it. 

When I returned to my tent I found a visiting card on my 
table, bearing the name and title, " Hanna Khabbaz, the 
preacher of the Protestant Church at Horns." Beneath this 
inscription was written the following message : " Madam, — 
My wife and I are ready to do any service you need in the 
name of Christ and the humanity. We should like to visit 
you if you kindly accept us. I am, your obedient servant." 
1 sent word that I would kindly accept them if they would 
come at once, and they appeared before sundown, two friendly 
people, very eager to offer me hospitality, of which I had no 
opportunity to take advantage. I regretted it the less because 
the Pasha and the Kadi had been good enough company for 
one afternoon, and when 1 look back on the tumultuous visit 
to IJoms, the hour spent with those two courteous and well- 
bred Mohammadans stands out like the memory of a sheltered 
spot in a gale of wind. 



CHAPTER IX 

We left next day at an early hour, but the people of Horns got 
up to see us off. Nothing save the determination to afford 
them no more amusement than I could help kept me outwardly 
calm. In a quarter of an hour we had passed beyond the 
Tripoli Gate, and the Roman brickwork, and beyond the range 
of vision of the furthest sighted of the little boys ; the peaceful 
beauty of the morning invaded our senses, and I turned to 
make the acquaintance of the companions with whom the 
Kaimakam had provided me. They were four in number, and 
two of them were free and two were bound. The first two 
were Kurdish zaptiehs ; one was charged to show me 
the way to Kal'at el Husn, and the other to guard over 
the second pair of my fellow travellers, a couple of prisoners 
who had been on the Kaimakam's hands for some days past, 
waiting until he could find a suitable opportunity, such as 
that afforded by my journey, to send them to the for- 
tress in the Jebel Nosairiyyeh, and so to the great prison at 
Tripoli. They were clad, poor wretches, in ragged cotton 
clothes and handcuffed together. As they trudged along 
bravely through dust and mud, I proffered a word of sym- 
pathy, to which they replied that they hoped God might pro- 
long my life, but as for them it was the will of their lord the 
Sultan that they should tramp in chains. One of the Kurds 
interrupted with the explanation : 

" They are deserters from the Sultan's army : may God 
reward them according to their deeds ! Moreover, they are 
Ismailis from Selemiyyeh, and they worship a strange god who 
lives in the land of Hind. And some say she is a woman, and 
for that reason they worship her. And every year she sends 
an embassy to this country to collect the money that is due to 
her, and even the poorest of the Ismailis provide her with a few 






iq6 the desert and THE SOWN 

piastres. And yet they declare that they are Muslims : who 
knows what they believe ? Speak, oh Khudr, and tell us what 
you believe.*' 

The prisoner thus addressed repUed doggedly : 

" We are Muslims ; " but the soldier's words had given me a 
clue which I was able to follow up when the luckless pair crept 
close to my horse's side and whispered : 

" Lady, lady ! have you journeyed to the land of Hind ? " 
Yes," said I. 

May God make it Yes upon you ! Have you heard there 
of a great king called the King Muhammad ? " 

Again I was able to reply in the affirmative, and even to 
add that I myself knew him and had conversed with him, for 
their King Muhammad was no other than my fellow subject 
the Agha Khan, and the religion of the prisoners boasted a 
respectable antiquity, having been founded by him whom we 
call the Old Man of the Mountain. They were the humble 
representatives of the dreaded (and probably maligned) sect 
of the Assassins. 

Khudr caught my stirrup with his free hand and said 
eagerly : 

" Is he not a great king ? " 

But I answered cautiously, for though the Agha Khan is 
something of a great king in the modem sense, that is to say 
he is exceedingly wealthy, it would have been difficult to ex- 
plain to his disciples exactly what the polished, well-bred man 
of the world was like whom I had last met at a London dinner 
party, and who had given me the Marlborough Club as his 
address. Not that these things, if they could have imder- 
stood them, would have shocked them ; the Agha Khan is a 
law unto himself, and if he chose to indulge in far greater 
excesses than dinner parties his actions would be sanctified by 
the mere fact that they were his. His father used to give 
letters of introduction to the Angel Gabriel, in order to secure 
for his clients a good place in Paradise ; the son, with his Eng- 
lish education and his familiarity with European thought, has 
refrained from exercising this privilege, though he has not 
ceased to hold, in the opinion of his followers, the keys of 
heaven. They show their belief in him in a substantial manner 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 197 

by subscribing, in various parts of Asia and Africa, a liand- 
some income that runs yearly into tens of thousands. 

We rode for about an hour through gardens, meeting bands 
of low-caste Arabs jogging into Homs on their donkeys with 
milk and curds for the market, and then we came to the plain 
beyond the Orontes, which is the home of these Arabs. The 
plain had a familiar air; it was not dissimlar from the country 



in the Druze hills, and like the Hauran it was covered with black 
volcanic stones. It is a vast quarry for the city of Homs. 
All the stones that are used for building are brought from 
beyond the river packed on donkeys. They are worth a 
metalik in the town (now a metallk is a coin too small to possess 
a European counterpart), and a man with a good team can earn 
up to ten piastres a day. In the Spring the only Arabs who 
camp in lie Wa'r yoms, the Stony Plain of Homs, are a 
despised race that caters for the needs of the city, for, mark you, 
no Bedouin who respected himf.elf would earn a livelihood by 
selling curds or by any other means except battle ; but in the 
summer the big tribes such as the Haseneh settle there for a 
few months, and after the harvest certain of the 'Anazeh who 
feed their camels upon the stubble. These great folk are much 



198 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

like salmon in a trout stream coming in from the open sea and 
bullying the lesser fry. When we passed in March there was 
a good deal of standing water in the plain, and grass and flowers 
grew between the stones ; and as we journeyed westward, over 
ground that rose gradually towards the hills, we came into 
country that was like an exquisite garden of flowers. Pale 
blue hyacinths lifted their clustered bells above the tufa 
blocks, irises and red anemones and a yellow hawksweed and 
a beautiful purple hellebore dotted the grass — all the bounties 
of the Syrian Spring were scattered on that day beneath our 
happy feet. For the first five hours we followed the carriage 
road that leads to Tripoli, passing the khan that marks the 
final stage before the town of Homs, and the boundary Une 
between the vilayets of Damascus and of Beyrout ; then we 
turned to the right and entered a bridle-path that lay over a 
land of roUing grass, partly cultivated and fuller of flowers 
than the edges of the road had been. The anemones were o( 
every shade of white and purple, small blue irises clustered 
by the path and yellow crocuses by the banks of the stream. 
In the eyes of one who had recently crossed southern Syria 
the grass was even more admirable than the flowers. The 
highest summits of the Jebel Nosairiyyeh are clad with a verdure 
that no fertile slope in Samaria or Judaea can boast. The 
path mounted a little ridge and dropped down to a Kurdish 
village, half Arab tent and half mud-built wall. The in- 
habitants must have been long in Syria, for they had forgotten 
their own tongue and spoke nothing but Arabic, though, like 
the two zaptiehs, they spoke with the clipped accent of the 
Kurd. Beyond the village a plain some three miles wide, the 
Bkei'a, stretched to the foot of the steep buttress of the No- 
.sairi5^eh hills, and from the very top of the mountain frowned 
the great crusader fortress towards which* we were going. 
The sun shone on its turrets, but a black storm was creeping 
up behind it ; we could hear the thunder rumbling in the hills, 
and jagged lightning shot through the clouds behind the castle. 
The direct road across the Bkei'a was impassable for horse- 
men, owing to the flooded swamps, which were deep enough, 
said the villagers, to engulf a mule and its load ; we turned 
therefore reluctantly to the right, and edged round the foot of 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 201 

the hills. Before we had gone far we met two riders sent out 
to welcome us by the Kaimakam of Kal'at el Husn, and as 
they joined us the storm broke and enveloped us in sheets of 
rain. Splashing through the mud and drenched with rain we 
reached the foot of the hills at five o'clock, and here I left my 
caravan to follow the road, and with one of the Kaimakam's 
horsemen climbed by a steep and narrow bridle-path straight 
up to the hill- top. And so at sunset we came to the Dark 
Tower and rode through a splendid Arab gateway into a 
vaulted corridor, built over a winding stair. It was almost 
night within ; a few loopholes let in the grey dusk from outside 
and provided the veriest apology for daylight. At intervals 
we passed doorways leading into cavernous blackness. The 
stone steps were shallow and wide but much broken ; the 
horses stumbled and clanked over them as we rode up and up, 
turned comer after comer, and passed under gateway after 
gateway until the last brought us out into the courtyard in 
the centre of the keep. I felt as though I were riding with 
some knight of the Fairy Queen, and half expected to see 
written over the arches : " Be bold ! " " Be bold ! " " Be 
not too bold ! " But there was no magician in the heart of 
the castle — nothing but a crowd of villagers craning their 
necks to see us, and the Kaimakam, smiling and friendly, 
announcing that he could not think of letting me pitch a camp 
on such a wet and stormy night, and had prepared a lodging 
for me in the tower. 

The Kaimakam of Kal'at el Husn is a distinguished man 
of letters. His name is 'Abd ul Hamid Beg Rafi'a Zadeh, 
and his family comes from Egypt, where many of his cousins 
are still to be found. He lives in the topmost tower of the 
keep, where he had made ready a guest chamber commodiously 
fitted with carpets and a divan, a four-post bedstead and a 
mahogany wardrobe with looking-glass doors of which the 
glass had been so splintered in the journey a-camel back from 
Tripoh that it was impossible to see the smallest corner of 
one's face in it. I was wet through, but the obligations of 
good society had to be fulfilled, a^nd they demanded that we 
should sit down on the divan and exchange polite phrases 
while I drank glasses of weak tea. My host was preoccupied 



ao2 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and evidently disinclined for animated conversation — for a 
good reason, as I subsequently found — but on my replying to 
his first greeting he heaved a sigh of relief, and exclaimed : 

" Praise be to God ! your Excellency speaks Arabic. We 
had feared that we shovdd not be able to talk with you, and I 
had already invited a Syrian lady who knows the English 
tongue to spend the evening for the purpose of interpreting." 

We kept up a disjointed chat for an hour while the damp 
soaked more and more completely through my coat and skirt, 
and it was not until long after the mules had arrived and their 
packs had been unloaded that the Kaimakam rose and took 
his departure, saying that he would leave me to rest. We had, 
in fact, made a long day's march ; it had taken the muleteers 
eleven hours to reach Kal'at el Husn. I had barely had time 
to change my wet clothes before a discreet knocldng at the 
inner door announced the presence of the womenfolk. I opened 
at once and admitted a maid servant, and the wife of the 
Kaimakam, and a genteel lady who greeted me in English 
of the most florid kind. This last was the Sitt Ferldeh, the 
Christian wife of the Government land surveyor, who is also a 
Christian. She had been educated at a missionary school in 
Tripoli, and I was not long left in ignorance of the fact that she 
was an authoress, and that her greatest work was the translation 
of the " Last Days of Pompeii " into Arabic. The Kaimakam's 
wife was a young woman with apple cheeks, who would have 
been pretty if she had not been inordinately fat. She was his 
second wife ; he had married her only a month or two before, 
on the death of his first, the mother of his children. She was so 
shy that it was some time before she ventured to open her 
lips in my presence, but the Sitt Ferldeh carried off the situa- 
tion with a gushing volubility, both in English and in Arabic, 
and a cheerful air of emphasising by her correct demeanour the 
fervour of her Christianity. She was a pleasant and intelligent 
woman, and I enjoyed her company considerably more than 
that of my hostess. The first word that the Khanum ven- 
tured to utter was, however, a welcome one, for she asked 
when I would please to dine. I replied with enthusiasm that 
no hour could be too early for me, and we crossed a muddy 
courtyard and entered a room in which a bountiful meal had 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 203 

been spread out. Here we were joined by an ancient dame who 
was presented to me as " a friend who has come to gaze upon 
your Excellency," and we all sat down to the best of dinners 
eaten by one at least of the party with the best of sauces. 
A thick soup and four enormous dishes of meat and vegetables, 
topped by a rice pudding, composed the repast. When dinner 



was over we returned to my room, a brazier full of charcoal 
was brought in, together with hubble-bubbles for the ladies, 
and we settled ourselves to an evening's talk. The old woman 
refused to sit on the divan, saying that she was more accus- 
tomed to the floor, and disposed herself neatly as close as pos- 
sible to the brazier, holding out her wrinkled hands over the 
glowing coals. She was clad in black, and her head was covered 
by a thick white linen cloth, which was bound closely above 
her brow and enveloped her chin, giving her the air of some 
aged prioress of a religious order. Outside the turret room the 
wind howled ; the rain beat against the single window, and the 
talk turned naturally to deeds of horror and such whispered 
tales of murder and death as must have startled the shadows 



204 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

in that dim room for many and many a century. A terrible 
domestic tragedy had fallen upon the Kaimakam ten days 
before : his son had been shot by a schoolfellow at Tripoli 
in some childish quarrel — the women seemed to thmk it not 
unusual that a boy's sudden anger should have such con- 
sequences. The Kaimakam had been summoned by telegraph ; 
he had ridden down the long mountain road with fear clutch- 
ing at his heart, only to find the boy dead, and his sorrow had 
been almost more than he could bear. So said the Sitt Ferideh. 

The ancient crone rocked herself over the brazier and 
muttered : 

" Murder is like the drinking of milk here ! God ! there is 
no other but Thou." 

A fresh gust of wind swept round the tower, and the 
Christian woman took up the tale. 

*' This Khanum," said she, nodding her head towards the 
figure by the brazier, " knows also what it is to weep. Her 
son was but now murdered in the mountains by a robber who 
slew him with his knife. They found his body lying 
stripped by the path." 

The mother bent anew over the charcoal, and the glow 
flushed her worn old face. 

" Murder is like the spilling of water ! " she groaned. 
" Oh Merciful ! " 

It was late when the women left me. One of them offered 
to pass the night in my room, but I refused politely and firmly. 

Next day I was wakened by thunder and by hailstones 
rattling against my shutters. There was nothing for it but to 
spend another twenty-four hours under the Kaimakam's roof 
and be thankful that we had a roof to spend them under. I 
explored the castle from end to end, with immense satisfac- 
tion to the eternal child that lives in the soul of all of us and 
takes more delight in the dungeons and battlements of a for- 
tress than in any other relic of antiquity. Kal'at el Husn is 
so large that half the population of the village is lodged in the 
vaulted substructures of the keep, while the garrison occupies 
the upper towers. The walls of the keep rise from a moat 
inside the first line of fortifications, the line through which we 
had passed the night before by the vaulted gallery. The 



THE DESEKT AND THE SOWN 205 

butcher of the castle lodged by the gateway of the Inner 
wall ; every morning he killed a sheep on the threshold, and 
those who went out stepped across a pool of blood as though 
some barbaric sacrifice were performed daily at the gate. 
The keep contained a chapel, p now converted into a mosque. 



THR BANQUET HALL 

and a banquet hall with Gothic windows, the tracery of which 
was blocked with stones to guard those who dwelt within 
against the cold. The tower in which I was lodged formed part 
of the highest of the defences and rose above three stories of 
vaults. A narrow passage from it along the top of the wall led 
into a great and splendid chamber, beyond which was a round 
tower containing a circular room roofed by a fourfold vault, 
and lighted by pointed windows with rosettes and mouldings 
round the arches. The castle is the " Kerak of the Knights " 
of Crusader chronicles. It belonged to the Hospitallers, and 



2o6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the Grand Master of the Order made it his residence. The 
Egyptian Sultan Malek ed Daher took it from them, restored 
it, and set his exultant insc^ption over the main gate. It is 
one of the most perfect of the many fortresses which bear 
witness to the strange jumble of noble ardour, fanaticism, 
ambition and crime that combined to make the history of the 
Crusades — a page whereon the Christian nations cannot look 
without a blush nor read without the unwilUng pity exacted 
by vain courage. For to die in a worthless cause is the last 
extremity of defeat, Kerak is closely related to the military 
architecture of southern France, yet it bears traces of an 
Oriental influence from which the great Orders were not im- 
mune, though the Templars succumbed to it more completely 
than the Hospitallers. Like the contemporary Arab fortresses 
the walls increased in thickness towards the foot to form a 
sloping bastion of solid masonry which protected them against 
the attacks of sappers, but the roimded towers with their great 
projection from the line of the wall were wholly French in 
character. The Crusaders are said to have found a castle on 
the hill top and taken it from the Moslims, but I saw no traces 
of earlier work than theirs. Parts of the present structure are 
later than their time, as, for instance, a big building by the 
inner moat, on the walls of which were carved lions not unlike 
the Seljuk lion. 

After lunch I waded down the muddy hill to the village and 
called on the Sitt Ferideh and her husband. There were 
another pair of Christians present, the man being the Sahib es 
Sanduk, which I take to be a kind of treasurer. The two men 
talked of the condition of the Syrian poor. No one, said the 
land surveyor, died of hunger, and he proceeded to draw up 
the yearly budget of the average peasant. The poorest of the 
fellahin may earn from looo to 1500 piastres a year (£j to £11), 
but he has no need of any money except to pay the capitation 
tax and to buy himself a substitute for military service. Meat 
is an unknown luxury ; a cask of semen (rancid butter) costs 
8s. or los. at most ; it helps to make the burghul and other 
grains palatable, and it lasts several months. If the grain 
and the semen run low the peasant has only to go out into the 
moimtains or into the open country, which is no man's land, and 



• THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 207 

gather edible leaves or grub up roots. He builds his house 
with his own hands, there are no fittings or furniture in it, 
and the ground on which it stands costs nothing. As for 
clothing, what does he need ? a couple of linen shirts, a woollen 
cloak every two or three years, and a cotton kerchief for the 
head. The old and the sick 
are seldom left uncared for ; 
their families look after them 
if they have families, and if 
they are without relations 
they can alwaj^ make a live- 
lihood by begging, for no one 
in the East refuses to give 
something when he is asked, 
though the poor can seldom 
give money. Few of the 
fellahln own land of their 
own ; they work for hire on 
the estates of richer men. 
The chief landowners round 
Kal'at el Husn are the 
family of the Danadisheh, 
who come from Tripoli. 
Until quite recently the 
government did not occupy 
the castle ; it belongs to the 

family of the Za'bieh, who kal'at el hu^n, walls of the 
have owned it for two inner enceinte 

hundred years, and still live in some rooms on the outer 
wall. The Treasurer broke in here and said that even the 
Moslem population hated the Ottoman government, and would 
infinitely rather be ruled by a foreigner, what though he were 
an infidel — preferably by the English, because the prosperity 
of Egypt had made so deep an impression on Syrian minds. 

That evening the Kaimakam , sent me a message asking 
whether I would choose to dine alone or whether I would 
honour him and his wife, and I begged to be allowed to take the 
latter alternative. In spite of a desire, touchingly evident, to 
be a good host, he was sad and silent during the earlier stages 



2o8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

of the dinner, until we hit upon a subject that drew him from 
the memory of his sorrow. The mighty dead came out to help 
us with words upon their lips that have lifted the failing hearte 
of generations of mankind. The Kaimakam was well acquainted 
with Arabic literature ; he knew the poets of the Ignorance by 
heart, and when he found that I had a scanty knowledge of 
them and a great love for them he quoted couplet after couplet. 
But his own tastes lay with more modem singers; the 
tenth-century Mutanabbi was evidently one of his favourite 
authors. Some of the old fire still smoulders in Mutanabbi's 
verse ; it burnt again as the Kaimakam recited the famous 
ode in which the poet puts from him the joys of youth : 

*• Oft have I longed for age to still the tumult in my brain, 
And why should I repine when my prayer is fulfilled ? 
We have renounced desire save for the spear-points, 
Neither do we dally, except with them. 

The most exalted seat in the world is the saddle of a swift horse, 
And the best companion lor all time is a book." 

" Your Excellency," concluded the Kaimakam, " must 
surely hold that couplet in esteem." 

When we returned to the guest chamber he asked whether he 
should not read his latest poem, composed at the request of the 
students of the American College at Beyrout (the most renowned 
institution of its kind in Sj^ria) to commemorate an anniversary 
they were about to celebrate. He produced first the students' 
letter, which was couched in flattering terms, and then his 
sheets of manuscript, and declaimed his verses with the fine 
emphasis of the Oriental reciter, pausing from time to time to 
explain the full meaning of a metaphor or to give an illustra- 
tion to some difficult couplet. His subject was the praise of 
learning, but he ended inconsequently with a fulsome panegyric 
on the Sultan, a passage of which he was immensely proud. As 
far as I could judge it was not very great poetry, but what of 
that ? There is no solace in misfortune like authorship, and for a 
short hour the Kaimakam forgot his grief and entered mto regions 
where there is neither death nor lamentation. I offered him 
sympathy and praise at suitable points and could have laughed 
to find myself talking the same agreeable rubbish in Arabic 
that we all talk so often in English. I might have been sitting 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN ^ 209 

in a London drawing-room, instead of between the bare walls of 
a Crusader tower, and the world is after all made of the one 
stuff throughout. 

It was still raining on the following morning and I had 
dressed and breakfasted in the lowest spirits when of a sudden 



PKLr'.AHft: AFABS 

some one waved a magic wand, the clouds were cleared away, 
and we set off at half-past seven in exquisite sunshine. At 
the bottom of the steep hill on whidi the castle stands there 
lies in an olive grove a Greek monastery. When I reached it I 
got off my horse and went in, as was meet, to salute the Abbot, 
and, behold ! he was an old acquaintance whom I had met at 
the monastery of Ma'alula five years earlier on my return from 
Palmyra, There were great rejoicings at this fortunate coinci- 
dence, and much jam and water and coffee were consumed in 
the celebration of it. The monastery has been rebuilt, except 



210 . THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

for a crypt-like chapel, which they say is 1200 years old. The 
vault is supported by two pairs of marble columns, broken off 
below the capital and returned into the wall, a scheme more 
curious than attractive. The capitals are in the form of lily 
heads of a Byzantine type. By the altar screen, a good piece 
of modem wood carving, there are some very beautiful Persian 
tiles. In the western wall of the monastery I was shown a 
door so narrow between the jambs that it is scarcely possible 
to squeeze through them, impossible, said the monks, for any 
one except he be pure of heart. I did not risk my reputation 
by attempting to force the passage. 

We rode on through shallow wooded valleys full of flowers ; 
the fruit trees were coming mto blossom and the honeysuckle 
into leaf, and by a tiny graveyard under some budding oaks we 
stopped to lunch. \ Before us lay the crucial point of our day's 
march. We could see the keep of Safita Castle on the opposite 
hill, but there was a swollen river between, the bridge had been 
swept away, and report said that the ford was impassable. 
When we reached the banks of the Abrash we saw the river 
rushing down its wide channel, an unbroken body of swirling 
water through which no loaded mule could pass. We rode 
near two hours down stream, and were barely in time with the 
second bridge, the Jisr el Wad, which was in the last stage of 
decrepitude, the middle arch just holding together. The 
hills on the opposite bank were covered with a low scrub, out 
of which the lovely iris stylosa lifted its blue petals, and the 
scene was further enlivened by a continuous procession of 
white-robed Nosairis making their way down to the bridge. 
I had a Kurdish zaptieh with me, 'Abd ul Mejid, who knew 
the mountains well, and all the inhabitants of them. Though 
he was a Mohammedan he had no feeling against the 
Nosairis, whom he had always found to be a harmless folk, 
and every one greeted him with a friendly salutation as we 
passed. ^ He told me that the white-robed companies were 
going to the funeral feast of a great sheikh much renowned 
for piety, who had died a week ago. The feast on such oc- 
casions is held two days after the funeral, and when the guests 
have eaten of the meats each man according to his ability pays 
tribute to the family of the dead, the sums varying from one 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 211 

lira upwards to five or six. To have a reputation for holiness 
in the Jebel Nosairiyyeh is as good as a life insurance with 
us. 

Owing to our long circuit we did not reach Safita till four. 
I refused the hospitality of the Commandant, and pitched 
my tents on a ridge outside the village. The keep which we 
had seen from afar is all that remains of the White Castle of 
the Knights Templars. It stands on the top of the hill with 
the village clustered at its foot, and from its summit are 
visible the Mediterranean and the northern parts of the 
Phoenician coast. I saw a Phoenician coin among the anti- 
quities offered me for sale, and the small bronze figure of a 
Phoenician god — Safita was probably an inland stronghold of 
the merchant nation. The keep was a skilful architectural 
surprise. It contained, not the vaulted hall or refectory that 
might have been expected, but a great church which had thus 
occupied the very heart of the fortress. A service was being 
held when we entered and all the people were at their prayers 
in a red glow of sunset that came through the western doors. 
The inhabitants of Safita are most of them Christians, and 
many speak English with a strong American accent picked 
up while they were making their small fortunes in the States. 
Besides the accent, they had acquired a familiarity of address 
that did not please me, and lost some of the good manners to 
which they had been bom. 'Abd ul Mejid, the smart non- 
commissioned officer, accompanied me through the town, 
saved me from the clutches of the Americanised Christians, 
twirled his fierce military moustaches at the little boys who 
thought to run after us, and followed their retreat with ex-* 
tracts from the finest vocabulary of objurgation that I have 
been privileged to hear. 

Late in the evening two visitors were announced, who turned 
out to be the Zabit (Commandant) and another official sent 
by the Kaimakam of Drekish to welcome me and bring me 
down to his village. We three rode off together in the early 
morning with a couple of soldiers behind us, by a winding 
path through the hills, and after two hours we came to a valley 
full of olive groves, with the village of Drekish on the slopes 
above them. At the first clump of olive trees we found three 



212 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

worthies in frock coats and tarbushes waiting to receive us ; 
they mounted their horses when we approached and fell into 
the procession, which was further swelled as we ascended the 
village street by other notables on horseback, till it reached 
the sum total of thirteen. The Kaimakam met us at the door 
of his house, frock-coated and ceremonious, and led me into 
his audience-room where we drank coffee. By this time the 
company consisted of some thirty persons of importance. 
When the official reception was over my host took me into his 
private house and introduced me to his wife, a charming 
Damascene lady, and we had a short conversation, during 
which I made his better acquaintance. Riza Beg el 'Abid owes 
his present position to the fact that he is cousin to 'Izzet Pasha, 
for there is not one of that great man's family but he is at 
least Kamaikam. Riza Beg might have climbed the 
official ladder unaided ; he is a man of exceptionally pleasant 
manners, amply endowed with the acute intelligence of the 
Syrian. The family to which he and 'Izzet belong is of 
Arab origin. The members of it claim to be descended from 
the noble tribe of the Muwali, who were kin to Harun er Ras- 
hid, and when you meet 'Izzet Pasha it is as well to con- 
gratulate him on his relationship with that Khalif, though 
he knows, and he knows also that you know, that the Mu- 
wali repudiate his claims with scorn and count him among 
the descendants of their slaves, as his name 'Abid (slave), 
may show. Slaves or freemen, the members of the 'Abid 
house have climbed so cleverly that they have set their feet 
upon the neck of Turkey, and will remain in that precarious 
position until 'Izzet falls from favour. Riza Beg pulled a 
grave face when I alluded to his high connection, and observed 
that power such as that enjoyed by his family was a serious 
matter, and how gladly would he retire into a less prominent 
position than that of Kaimakam ! Who knew but that the 
Pasha too would not wish to exchange the pleasures of Con- 
stantinople for a humbler and a safer sphere — a supposition 
that I can readily believe to be well grounded, since 'Izzet, if 
rumour speaks the truth, has got all that a man can reasonably 
expect from the years during which he has enjoyed the royal 
condescension. I assured the Kaimakam that I should make a 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 213 

point of pa5ang my respects to the Pasha when I reached Con- 
stantinople, a project that I ultimately carried out with such 
success that I may now reckon myself, on 'Izzet's own 
authority, as one of those who will enjoy his Ufe-long friend- 
ship. 

By this time lunch was ready, and the Khanum having 
retired, the other guests were admitted to the number of four, 
the Zabit, the Kadi and two others. It was a copious, an 
excellent and an entertaining meal. The conversation flowed 
merrily round the table, prompted and encouraged by the 
Kaimakam, who handled one subject after the other with the 
polished ease of a man of the world. As he talked I had 
reason to observe once more how fine and subtle a tongue is 
modem Syrian Arabic when used by a man of .education. 
The Kadi's speech was hampered by his having a reputation 
for learning to uphold, which obliged him to confine himself 
to the dead language of the Kiur'an. As I took my leave the 
Kaimakam explained that for that night I was still to be his 
guest. He had learnt, said he, that I wished to camp at the 
ruined temple of Husn es Suleiman, and had despatched my 
caravan thither imder the escort of a zaptieh, and sent up 
servants and provisions, together with one of his cousins to 
see to my entertainment. I was to take the Zabit with me, 
and Ra'ib Effendi el Helu, another of the luncheon party, 
and he hoped that I should be satisfied. I thanked him 
profusely for his kindness, and declared that I should have 
known his Arab birth by his generous hospitality. 

. Our path mounted to the top of the Nosairij^eh hills and 
followed along the crests, a rocky and beautiful track. The 
hills were extremely steep, and bare of all but grass and 
flowers except that here and there, on the highest summits, 
there was a group of big oaks with a white-domed Nosairi 
mazar shining through their baie boughs. The Nosairis 
have neither mosque nor church, but on every mountain top 
they build a shrine that marks a burial-ground. These high- 
throned dead, though they have left the world of men, have 
not ceased from their good offices, for they are the protectors 
of the trees rooted among their bones, trees which, alone among 
their kind, are allowed to grow untouched. 



214 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Husn es Suleiman lies at the head of a valley high up in the 
mountains. A clear spring breaks from under its walls and 
flows roimd a natural platform of green turf, on which we 
pitched our tents. The hills rise in an amphitheatre behind 
the temple, the valley drops below it, and the gods to whom it 
was dedicated enjoy in solitude the ruined loveliness of their 
shrine. The walls round the temenos are overgrown with ivy, 
and violets bloom in the crevices. Four doorways lead into 
the court, in the centre of which stand the ruins of the temple, 
while a little to the south of the cella are the foimdations 
of an altar, bearing in fine Greek letters a dedication that 
recounts how a centurion called Decimus of the Flavian (?) 
Legion, with his two sons and his daughter, raised an altar of 
brass to the god of Baitocaice and placed it upon a platform 
of masonry in the year 444. The date is of the Seleucid era 
and corresponds to a.d. 132. It is regrettable that Decimus 
did not see fit to mention the name of the god, which remains 
undetermined in all the inscriptions. The northern gateway 
is a triple door, lying opposite to a second rectangular enclosure, 
which contains a small temple in antis at the south-east 
comer, and the apse of a sanctuary in the northern wall. 
This last sheltered perhaps the statue of the imknown god, for 
there are steps leading up to it and the bases of columns on 
either side. As at Ba'albek, the Christians sanctified the 
spot by the building of a church, which lay across the second 
enclosure at right angles to the northern sanctuary. The 
masonry of the outer walls of both courts is very massive, the 
stones being sometimes six or eight feet long. The decoration 
is much more austere than that of Ba'albek, but certain details 
so intimately recall the latter that I am tempted to conjecture 
that the same architect may have been employed at both 
places, and that it was he who cut on the under side of the 
architraves of Baitocaice the eagles and cherubs that he had 
used to adorn the architrave of the Temple of Jupiter. The 
peasants say that there are deep vaults below both temple and 
court. The site must be well worthy of careful excavation, 
though no additional knowledge will enhance the beauty of the 
great shrine in the hills. 

The Kaimakam had not fallen short of his word. Holocausts 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 217 

erf sheep and hens had been offered up for us, and after my 
friends and I had feasted, the soldiers and the muleteers 
made merry in their turn. The camp fires blazed brightly 
ill the clear sharp mountain air, the sky was alive with stars, 
the brook gurgled over the stones ; and the rest was silence, 
for Kurt was lost. Somewhere among the hills he had strayed 
away, and he was 
gone never to re- 
turn. I mourned 
bis loss, but slept 
the more peacefully 
for it ever after. 

AH my friends and 
all the soldiers rode 
with us next day to 
the frontier of the 
district of Drekish 
and there left 
as after having 
hounded a reluctant 
Nosairi out of his 

house at 'Ain esh north gate, hurn es suleiman 

Shems and bidden him help the zaptieh who accompanied 
us to find the extraordinarily rocky path to Masyad. After 
they had gone I summoned Mikhail and asked him what 
he had thought of our day's entertainment. He gave the 
Arabic equivalent for a sniff and said : 

" Doubtless your Excellency thinks that you were the guest 
of the Kaimakam. I will tell you of whom you were the 
guest. You saw those fellahin of the Nosairiyyeh, the 
miserable ones, who sold you anticas at the ruins this morn- 
ing ? They were your hosts. Everything you had was 
taken from them without return. They gathered the wood 
for the fires, the hens were theirs, the eggs were theirs, the 
lambs were from their flocks, and when you refused to take 
more saying, ' I have enough,' the soldiers seized yet another 
lamb and carried it off with them. And the only payment 
the fellahin received were the metaliks you gave them for 
their old money. But if you will listen to me," added 



2i8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Mikhail inconsequently, " you aiiall travel through the land 
of Anatolia and never take a quarter of a mejideh from your 
purse. From Kaimakam to Kaimal<am you shall go, and 
everywhere they shall offer you hospitality — that sort does 
not look for payment, they wish your Excellency to say a 
good word for them when you come to Constantinople. You 
shall sleep in their houses, and eat at their tables, as it 
was when I travelled with 
Sacks. . . ." 

But if I were to tell all 
that happened when Mikhail 
travelled with Mark Sykes I 
should never get to Masyftd. 
The day was rendered 
memorable by the excep- 
tional difficulty of the paths 
and by the beauty of the 
flowers. On the hill tops 
grew the alpine cyclamen, 
crocuses, yellow, white and 
purple, and whole slopes of 
THE CITY CATE. MA^Y*D whitc primroscs ; lower down, 

irises, narcissus, bl_ack and green orchids, purple orchis and 
the blue many-petalled anemone in a boscage of myrtle. When 
we reached the foot of the steepest slopes I sent the unfor- 
tunate Nosairi home with a tip, which was a great deal more 
than he expected to get out of an adventure that had begun 
with a command from the soldiery. At three we reached 
Masyad and camped at the foot of the castle. 

Now Masyad was a disappointment. There is indeed a 
great castle, but, as far as I could judge, it is of Arab workman- 
ship, and the walls round the town are Arab also, A Roman 
road from Hamah passes through Masyad, and there must be 
traces of Roman settlement in the town, but I saw none. I 
heard of a castle at Abu Kbesh on the top of the hills, but it 
was said to be like Masyad, only smaller, and I did not go up 
to it. The castle of Masyad has an outer wall and an inner 
keep reached by a vaulted passage like that of Kal'at el Husn. 
The old keep is almost destroyed, and has been replaced by 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 219 

jerry-built halls and chambers erected by the Ismailis some 
hundreds of years ago when they held the place, so I was 
told by an old man called the Emir Mustafa Milhem, who 
belonged to the sect and served me as guide. He also said 
that his family had inhabited the castle for seven or eight 
hundred years, but possibly he lied, though it is true that 
the Ismailis have held 
it as long. Built into 
the outer gateways are 
certain capitals and 
columns that must 
have been taken from 
Byzantine structures. 
There are some old 
Arabic inscriptions in- 
side the second gate 
which record the names 
of the builders of that 
part of the fortifica- 
tions, but they are 
much broken. I was 
told afterwards that I 
ought to have visited 
a place called Deir es 
Sleb, where there are 

two churches and a cAirirtL at masvAd 

small castle. It is not 

marked in the map, and I heard nothing of it until I had 
left it far behind. I saw bits of the rasif, the Roman road, 
as I travelled next day to Hamah. At the bridge over the 
river Sarut, four and a half hours from Masyad, there is a 
curious mound faced to the very top with a rough wall of 
huge stones. Mikhail found a Roman coin in the furrows of 
the field at the .foot of it. From the river we had two and 
a half hours of tedious travel that were much lightened by 
the presence of a charming old Turk, a telegraph official, 
who joined us at the bridge and told me his story as we 
rode. 

" Effendim, the home of my family is near Sofia. Effendim, 



220 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

you know the place ? Masha'llah, it is a pleasant land ! 
Where I lived it was covered with trees, fruit trees ?jid pines 
in the mountains and rose gardens in the plain. Effendim, 
many of us came here after the war with the Muscovite for 
the' reason that we would not dwell under any hand but that 
of the Sultan, and many returned again after they had come. 
Efiendim ? Tor what cause ? They would not live in a 
country without trees ; by God, they could not endure it." 
Thus conversing we reached ^amSh. 



CHAPTER X 

You do not see >Jam5h until you are actually upon it — 
there is no other preposition that describes the attitude of 
the new comer. The Orontes at this point flows in a deep 
bed and the whole city lies hidden between the banks. The 
monotonous plain of cornfields stretches before you without a 
break until you reach a veritable entanglement of graveyards 
— the weekly All Souls' Day had come round again when we 
arrived, and the cemeteries were crowded with the living as 
well as with the dead. Suddenly the plain ceased beneath 
our feet, and we stood on the edge of an escarpment, with 
the whole town spread out before us, the Orontes set with 
gigantic Persian wheels, and beyond it the conical mound 
on which stood the fortresses of Hamath and Epiphaneia and 
who knows what besides, for the site is one of the oldest in 
the world. Two soldiers started from the earth and set about 
to direct me to a camping ground, but I was tired and cross, 
a state of mind that does sometimes occur on a journey, and 
the arid spots between houses to which they took us seemed 



222 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

particularly distasteful. At length the excellent Turk, who 
had not yet abandoned us, declared that he knew the very 
place that would please me ; he led us along the edge of the 
escarpment to the extreme northern end of the city, and here 
showed us a grassy sward which was as lovely a situation as 
could be desired. The Orontes issued from the town below 
us amid gardens of flowering apricot trees, the golden evening 
light lay behind the minarets, and a great Na'oura ground 
out a delicious song of the river. 

Hamah is the present terminus of the French railway,* and 
the seat of a Muteserrif . The railway furnished me with a 
guide and companion in the shape of a Syrian station-master, a 
consequential half-baked little man, who had been educated 
in a missionary school and scorned to speak Arabic when he 
could stutter in French. He annoimced that his name was 
Monsieur Kbes and his passion archaeology, and, that he 
might the better prove himself to be in the van of modem 
thought, he attributed every antiquity in Hamah to the Hit- 
tites, whether it were Byzantine capital or Arab enlaced decora- 
tion. With the Muteserrif I came immediately into collision 
by reason of his insisting on providing me with eight soldiers 
to guard my camp at night, a preposterous force, considering 
that two had been ample in every country district. So 
numerous a guard would have been an intolerable nuisance, 
for they would have talked all night and left the camp no 
peace, and I sent six of them away, in spite of their protesta- 
tions that they must obey superior orders. They reconciled 
the Muteserrif's commands with mine by spending the night 
in a ruined mosque a quarter of a mile away, where they were 
able to enjoy excellent repose unbroken by a sense of respon- 
sibility. 

For picturesqueness Hamah is not to be outdone by any 
town in Syria. The broad river with its water wheels is a 
constant element of beauty, the black and white striped towers 
of the mosques an exquisite architectural feature, the narrow, 
partly vaulted streets are traps to hold unrivalled effects of 
sun and shadow, and the bazaars are not as yet disfigured by 

* It will be the terminus only for a month or two longer for the 
line has at length been continued to Aleppo. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 223 

the iron roofs that have done so much to destroy the character 
of those at Damascus and at Horns, The big mosque in the 
centre of the town was once a Byzantine church. The doors 
and windows of the earUer building are easily traceable in the 
walls of the mosque ; the lower part of the western minaret 
was probably the 
foundation of an older 
tower; the court is 
full of Byzantine shafts 
and capitals, and the 
beautiful little Kubbeh 
is supported by eight 
Corinthian columns. 
On one of these I 
noticed the Byzantine 
motive of the blown 
acanthus. When they 
grew weary of setting 
the leaves in a stereo- 
typed uprightness, the 
stone-cutters laid them 
lightly round the capi- 
tal, as though the 
fronds had drifted in 
a swirl of wind, and 
the effect is wonder- 

, „ I , J , THE KUBBEH [M THE MOSQUE AT HAMAH 

fully graceiul and lan- 

ciful. Kbesand I climbed the citadel hill, and found the area 
on the top to be enormous, but all the cut stones of the 
fortifications have been removed and built into the town 
below. My impression is that the isolation of the mound is 
not natural, but has been effected by cutting through the 
headland that juts out into the valley, and so separating a 
part of it from the main ridge. If this be so, it must have 
been a great work of antiquity, for the cutting is both wide 
and deep. 

The chief mtercst of the day at Hamah was supplied by 
the inhabitants. Four powerful Mohammadan families are 
reckoned as the aristocracy of the town, that of 'Azam Zadeb, 



224 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Teifur, Killani and Barazi, of which last I had seen a member 
in Damascus. The combined income of each family is pro- 
bably about £6000 a year, all derived from land and villages, 
there being little trade in Hamah. Before the Ottoman 
government was established as firmly as it is now, these four 
families were the lords of Hamah and the surrounding dis- 
tricts ; they are still of considerable weight in the adminis- 
tration of the town, and the officials of the Sultan let them go 
pretty much their own way, which is often devious. An 
ancient evil tale of the 'Azam Zadeh is often told, and not denied, 
so far as I could learn, by the family. There was an 'Azam 
in past years who, like King Ahab, desired his neighbour's 
vineyard, but the owner of it refused to sell. Thereupon 
the great man laid a plot. He caused one of his slaves to be 
slaughtered and had him cut into small pieces and buried, 
not too deep, in a corner of the coveted property, and after 
waiting a suitable time he sent a message to the landlord 
saying, " You have frequently invited me to drink coffee with 
you in your garden ; I will come. Make ready." The man 
was gratified by this condescension and prepared a feast 
The day came and with it the 'Azam prince. The meal was 
spread under an arbour, but when the guest saw it he de- 
clared that the spot selected did not suit him, and led the way 
to the exact place where his slave had been buried. The 
host protested, sajdng that it was a mean comer close to the 
refuse heaps, but the 'Azam replied that he was satisfied, 
and the entertainment began. Presently the guest raised 
his head and said, " I perceive a curious smell." " My 
lord," said the host, " it is from the refuse heaps." " No," 
said the other, " there is something more ; " and siunmoning 
his servants he bade them dig in the ground whereon they sat. 
The quartered body of the slave was revealed and recognised, 
and on an accusation of murder the lord of the garden was 
seized and bound, and his possessions taken from him by way 
of compensation. 

Nor, said Kbes, have such summary methods of injustice 
ceased. Quite recently a quantity of onions were stolen from 
a shop belonging to 'Abd ul Kadir el 'Azam in the quarter 
immediately below my camp. The servants of 'Abd ul 



1 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 227 

Kadir came to the house of the sheikh of the quarter and 
demanded from him their master's property, and since he 
knew nothing of the matter and could not indicate who the 
thief might have been, they seized him and his son, wounding 
the son in the hand with a bullet, dragged them to the river 
bank, stripped them, beat them almost to death, and left 
them to get home as best they might. The incident was known 
all over Hamah, but the government took no steps to punish 
'Abd ul Kadir. I went to the house of Khalid Beg 'Azam, 
which is the most beautiful in the city, as beautiful as the 
famous 'Azam house in Damascus. Khalid took me into 
rooms every inch of which was covered with an endless 
variety of Persian patterns in gesso duro and woodwork and 
mosaic. They opened upon a courtyard set round with an 
arcade of the best Arab workmanship, with a fountain in the 
centre and pots of flowering ranunculus and narcissus in 
the comers. The women of the house of 'Azam have even a 
greater reputation than the sumptuous walls that hold them ; 
they are said to be the loveliest women in all Hamah. 

The Killani I visited also in their charming house by the 
Orontes, the Tekyah Killaniyyeh. It contains a mausoleum, 
where three of their ancestors are buried, and rooms looking 
over the river, filled with the pleasant grumbling of a Persian 
wheel. From thence I went to the Muteserrif, who is an 
old man bent almost double, and acquainted with no tongue 
but Turkish. I was considerably relieved to find that he 
bore no malice for my unruly conduct in the matter of the 
guard. As we walked home to lunch we met an aged Afghan 
clad in white. Dervish Effendi was his name. He stopped 
the station-master to inquire who I was, and having learnt 
that I was English he approached me with a grin and a salute 
and said in Persian, " The English and the Afghans are 
close friends." He was in fact as well informed as the British 
public — possibly better informed — of the interchange of visits 
and civilities between Kabul and Calcutta ; and the moral 
of the episode (which developed into a long and tiresome, 
but most cordial, visit from Dervish Effendi) is that the report 
of what happens in the remotest comer of Asia is known almost 
immediately to the furthest end, and that it is scarcely an 



228 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

exaggeration to say that if an English regiment is cut up on 
the bordei*s of Afghanistan the English tourist will be mocked at 
in the streets of Damascus. Islam is the bond that unites the 
western and central parts of the continent, as it is the electric 
current by wliich the transmission of sentiment is effected, 
and its potency is increased by the fact that there is little or 
no sense of territorial nationality to counterbalance it. A 
Turk of a Persian does not think or speak of " my country " 
in the way that an Englishman or a Frenchman thinks and 
speaks ; his patriotism is confined to the town of which he 
is a native, or at most to the district in which that town lies. 
If you ask him to what nationality he belongs he will reply : 
" I am a man of Isfahan," or " I am a man of Konia," as the 
case may be, just as the Syrian will reply that he is a native of 
Damascus or Aleppo — I have already indicated that Syria is 
merelya geographical term corresponding tono national senti- 
ment in the breasts of the inhabitants. Thus to one hstening 
to the talk of the bazaars, to the shopkeepers whose trade 
is intimately connected with local conditions in districts 
very far removed from their own counters, to the muleteers 
who carry so much more than their loads from city to city, 
all Asia seems to be linked together by fine chains of relation- 
ship, and every detail of the foreign pohcies of Europe, from 
China to where you please, to be weighed more or less accu- 
rately in the balance of public opinion. It is not the part 
of wanderers and hearers of gossip to draw conclusions. We 
can do no more than report, for any that may care to listen, 
what falls from the lips of those who sit round our camp fires, 
and who ride with us across deserts and mountains, for their 
words are like straws on the flood of Asiatic politics, showing 
which way the stream is running. Personal experience has 
acquainted them with the stock in trade and the vocabulary 
of statecraft. They are familiar with war and negotiation 
and compromise, and with long nurtured and carefully con- 
cealed revenge. Whether they are discussing the results of a 
blood feud or the consequences of an international jealousy 
their appreciations are often just and their guesses near the 
mark. 

For the moment, so far as my experience goes, the name of 



■ THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 229 

the English carries more weight than it has done for some time 
past. I noticed a very distinct difference between the general 
attitude towards us from that which I had observed with pain 
five years before, during the worst moments of the Boer War. 
The change of feeUng is due, so far as I can judge from 
the conversations to which I listened, not so much to our 
victory in South Africa as to Lord Cromer's brilliant ad- 
ministration in Egypt, Lord Curzon's policy on the Persian 
Gulf, and the alli- 
ance ".vith the con- 
quering Japanese, 

When I had at 
last got rid of the 
Afghan and was 
sitting alone on the 
fringe of grass that 
separated my tent 
from I he city hun- 
dreds of feet below, 
a person of import- 
ance drove up to 

pay his respects. capital in thb uosqub, hamah 

He was the Mufti, 

Muhammad Effendi, He brought with him an intelligent 
man from Bosra el Harir, in the Hauran, who had travelled 
in Cyprus and had much to say (and little good to say) of 
our administration there. The Mufti was a man of the same 
type as the Kadi of Homs and the Sheikh Nakshibendi — 
the sharp-eyed and sharp-witted Asiatic, whose distinguished 
features are somewhat marred by an astuteness that amounts 
to cunning. He established himself upon the best of the 
camp chairs, and remarked with satisfaction : 

" I asked : ' Can she speak Arabic ? ' and when they 
answered ' Yes,' verily I ordered my carriage and came." 

His talk was of Yemen, whither he had been sent some years 
before to restore peace after the last Arab revolt. He spoke 
of the three days' journey over torrid desert from the coast, 
of the inland mountains covered with trees where there is 
always rain summer and winter, of the enormous grapes that 



230 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

hang in the vineyards, and the endless variety of fruits in 
the orchards, of the cities as big as Damascus, walled 
with great fortifications of mud a thousand years old. The 
Arabs, said he, were town dwellers not nomads, and they 
hated the Ottoman government as it is hated in few places. 
When the armies of the Sultan went out against them they 
were accustomed to flee into the mountains, where they could 
hold out, thought the Mufti, for an indefinite number of 
years. But he was wrong; a few months were enough 
to give victory to the Sultan's troops, what with daring 
generalship and the power to endure desert marches, and the 
rebellion failed, like many another, because the Arab tribes 
hate each other more vindictively than they hate the 
Osmanli. But, after the fashion of repressed rebellions in 
Turkey, it has already broken out again. The Mufti told me 
also that in Hamah wherever they dug they found ancient 
foundations, even below the river level. 

He was followed by my friend the Turkish telegraph clerk, 
who rejoiced to see me so well encamped, and then by the 
Muteserrif, pursuing an anxious and tottering course from his 
carriage through my tent ropes. The latter lent me his victoria 
that I might visit the parts of the town that lie on the eastern 
banks of the Orontes, and Kbes and I drove off with two 
outriders quite exceptionally free from rags. The eastern 
quarter, the Hadir it is called, is essentially the Bedouin 
quarter ; the city Arabic is replaced here by the rugged 
desert speech, and the bazaars are filled with Arabs who come 
in to buy coffee and tobacco and striped cloaks. It contains 
a beautiful little ruined mosque, said to be Seljuk, called 
El Hayyat, the mosque of Snakes, after the twisted columns 
of its windows. At the northern end of the courtyard is a 
chamber which holds the marble sarcophagus of Abu'l Fida, 
Prince of Hamah, the famous geographer. He died in 1331 ; 
his tomb is carved with a fine inscription recording the date 
according to the era of the Hejra. 

I gave a dinner party that night to the station-master, the 
Syrian doctor, Sallum, and the Greek priest. We talked till 
late, a congenial if incongruous company. Sallum had re- 
ceived his training in the American College at Beyrout, from 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 231 

whence come all the medical practitioners, great and small, 
who are scattered up and down Syria. He was a Christian, 
though of a different brand from the priest, and Kbes repre- 
sented yet another variety of doctrine. On the whole, said 
the priest, there was little anti-Christian feeling in Hamah, 
but there was also little respect for his cloth ; that very day 
as he walked through the town some Moslem women had 
thrown pebbles at him from a house-top, shouting, " Dog 
of a Christian 
priest ! " Kbes 
discussed the bene- 
fits conferred by 
the railway (a re- 
markably ill- 
managed concern I 
fancy) and said 
that without doubt 
Ilamah had pro- 
fited by it. Prices 
had gone up in the 
last two years, meat 

that would other- a capital, hamSu 

wise have found no 

market was now sent down to Damascus and Beyrout, and 
he himself who, when he first came, had been able to buy a 
sheep for a franc, was now obliged to pay ten. 

The Muteserrif of Hamah provided me with the best zaptieh 
that I was to have on all my travels, Hajj Mahmiid, a native 
of Hamah. He was a tall broad-shouldered man, who had 
been in the Sultan's own guard at Constantinople, and had 
made the pilgrimage three times, once as a pilgrim and twice 
as a soldier of the escort. He rode with me for ten days, and 
during that time told me more tales than would fill a volume, 
couched in a fine picturesque speech of which he was the master. 
He had travelled with a German archaeologist, and knew the 
strange tastes of the Europeans in the matter of ruins and 
inscriptions. 

" At Kal'at el Mudik I said to him : ' If you would look 
upon a stone with a horse written upon it and his rider, by the 



^32 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Light of God ! I can show it to you ! ' And he wondered 
much thereat, and rewarded me with money. By God and 
Muhammad the Prophet of God ! you too, oh lady, shall 
gaze on it." 

Now this exploit of Mahmud's was more remarkable than 
would appear at first sight, for one of the great difficulties 
in searching for antiquities is that the people in out-of-the- 
way places do not recognise a sculptiue when they see it. 
You are not surprised that they should fail to tell the difference 
between an inscription and the natural cracks and weather 
markings of the stone ; but it takes you aback when you ask 
whether there are stones with portraits of men and animals 
upon them, and your interlocutor replies : " Wallah ! we 
do not know what the picture of a man is Uke." Moreover, if 
you show him a bit of a relief with figures well carved upon it, 
as often as not he will have no idea what the carving represents. 

Mahmud's most memorable travelling companion had been a 
Japanese who had been sent by his government, I afterwards 
learnt, to study and report on the methods of building em- 
ployed in the eastern parts of the Roman empire — to such 
researches the Japanese had leisure to apply themselves in the 
thick of the war. Mahmud's curiosity had evidently been 
much excited by the httle man, whose fellows were snatching 
victory from the dreaded Russians. 

" All day he rode, and all night he wrote in his books. He 
eat nothing but a piece of bread and he drank tea, and when 
there came a matter for refusal he said (for he could talk 
neither Arabic nor Turkish), * Noh ! noh ! ' And that is 
French," concluded Mahmud. 

I remarked that it was not French but English, which gave 
Mahmud food for thought, for he added presently : 

" We had never heard their name before the war, but by the 
Face of the Truth ! the English knew of them." 

The Orontes makes a half circle between IJamah and 
Kal'at es Seijar, and we cut across the chord of the arc, riding 
over the same dull cultivated plain that I had crossed on my 
way from Masyad. It was strewn with villages of mud- 
built , beehive-shaped huts ; they are to be met with on the 
plains all the w^y to Aleppo, and are like no other villages 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 233 

save those that appear in the illustrations to Central African 
travel books. As a man grows rich he adds another beehive 
and yet another to his mansion, till he may have a dozen or 
more standing round a courtyard, some inhabited by himself 
and his family, some by his cattle, one forming his kitchen, and 
one his granary. We saw in the distance a village called Al 
Herdeh, which Mahmud said was Christian and used to belong 
entirely to the Greek communion. The inhabitants lived 
happily together and prospered, imtil they had the misfor- 
time to be discovered by a missionary, who distributed tracts 
and converted some sixty persons to the English Church, since 
when there has not been a moment's rest from brawhng in 
Al Herdeh. As we rode, Mahmud told tales of the Ismailis 
and the Nosairis. Of the former he said that the Agha 
Khan's photograph was to be found in every house, but it is 
woman that they worship, said he. Every female child bom 
on the 27th of Rajab is set apart and held to be an incarnation 
of the divinity. She is called the Rozah. She does not work, 
her hair and nails are never cut, her family share in the respect 
that is accorded to her, and every man in the village will wear 
a piece of her clothing or a hair from her body folded in his 
turban. She is not permitted to marry. 

But what,'* said I, " if she desire to marry ? " 
It would be impossible," replied Mahmud. " No one 
wo\ild marry her, for is there any man that can marry God ? " 

The sect is known to have sacred books, but none have yet 
fallen into the hands of European scholars. Mahmud had 
seen and read one of them — ^it was all in praise of the Rozah, 
describing every part of her with eulogy. The IsmaiHs read 
the Kur'an also, said he. Other strange matters he related 
which, like Herodotus, I do not see fit to repeat. The creed 
seems to spring from dim traditions of Astarte worship, or 
from that oldest and most universal cult of all, the veneration 
of the Mother Goddess ; but the accusations of indecency that 
have been brought against it are, I gather, unfounded.* 

Of the Nosairis Mahmud had much to tell, for he was we 

• The plural of Ismaili in the vernacular is Samawileh. I do not 
know whether this is the literary form, but it is the one I have always 
heard. 



(i 



234 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

acquainted with the hills in which they live, having been for 
many years employed in collecting the capitation tax among 
the sect. They are infidels, said he, who do not read the 
Kur'an nor know the name of God. He related a curious 
tale which I will repeat for what it is worth : 

" Oh lady, it happened in the winter that I was collecting 
the tax. Now in the month of Kanun el Awwal (December) 
the Nosairis hold a great feast that occurs at the same time 
as the Christian feast (Christmas), and the day before, when I 
was riding with two others in the hills, there fell a quantity of 
snow so that we could go no further, and we sought shelter at 
the first village in the house of the Sheikh of the village. 
For there is always a Sheikh of the village, oh lady, and a 
Sheikh of the Faith, and the people are divided into initiated 
and uninitiated. But the women know nothing of the secrets 
of the religion, for by God ! a woman cannot keep a secret. 
The Sheikh greeted us with hospitality and lodged us, but 
next morning when I woke there was no man to be seen in the 
house, nothing but the women. And I cried : ' By God 
and Muhammad the Prophet of God ! what hospitality is 
this ? and are there no men to make the coffee but only 
women ? ' And the women replied : ' We do not know what the 
men are doing, for they have gone to the house of the Sheikh 
of the Faith, and we are not allowed to enter.' Then I arose 
and went softly to the house and looked through the window, 
and, by God ! the initiated were sitting in the room, and in the 
centre was the Sheikh of the Faith, and before him a bowl filled 
with wine and an empty jug. And the Sheikh put questions 
to the jug in a low tone, and by the Light of the Truth I 
heard the jug make answer in a voice that said : ' Bl. . bl. . .' 
And without doubt, oh lady, this was magic. And while I 
looked, one raised his head and saw me. And they came 
out of the house and seized hold of me and would have beaten 
me, but I cried : ' Oh Sheikh ! I am your guest ! ' So the 
Sheikh of the Faith came forth and raised his hand, and on the 
instant all those that had hold of me released me. And he fell 
at my feet and kissed my hands and the hem of my coat and 
said : ' Oh IJaj ji ! if you will not tell what you have seen I will 
give you ten mejides ! ' And by the Prophet of God (upon 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 235 

him be peace t) I have never related it, oh lady, until this 
day." 

After four hours' ride we came to Kal'at es Seijar. It 
stands on a long hog's back broken in the middle by an arti- 
ficial cutting and dropping by steep bluffs to the Orontes, which 
runs here in a narrow bed between walls of rock. The castle 
walls that crown the hill between the cutting and the river 



KAL AT ES SEIJAR 

make a very splendid appearance from below. There is a 
small village of beehive huts at the bottom of the hill. The 
Seleucid town of Larissa must have lain on the grassy slopes 
to the r-or^h, judging from the number of dressed stones that 
are scattered there, I pitched my camp at the further end 
of the bridge in a grove of apricot trees, snowy with few r 
and a-hum with bees. The grass was set thickly with ane- 
mones and scarlet ranunculus. The castle is the property of 
Sheikh Ahmed Seijari and has been held by his family- for three 
hundred years. He and his sons hve in a number of little 
modem houses, built out of old stones in the middle of the 
fortifications. He owns a considerable amount of land and 
about one-third of the village, the rest being unequally divided 
between the Kill5nis of Hamah and the Smatiyyeh Arabs, 
a semi-nomadic tribe that dwells in houses during the winter. 
I had a letter of introduction to Sheikh Ahmed from Mustafa 



236 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Barazi, and, though Mahmud was of opinion that I should 
not find him in the castle owing to a long-drawn trouble 
between the Seijari family and the Smatiyyeh, we limbed 
up to the gate and along a road that showed remains of aulting, 
like the entrance to Kal'at el Husn, and so over masses of 
ruin till we came to the modem village where the Seijari 
sheikhs live. I inquired which was the house of Ahmed, 
and was directed to a big wooden door, most forbiddingly 
shut. I knocked and waited, and Mahmud knocked yet louder 
and we waited again. At last a very beautiful woman opened 
a shutter in the wall above and asked what we wanted. I said I 
had a letter from Mustafa to Ahmed, and wished to see him. 
She replied : 

'* He is away." 

I said : " I would salute his son." 

" You cannot see him," she returned. " He is in prison at 
Hamah, charged with murder. " 

And so she closed the shutter, leaving me to wonder how 
good manners would bid me act under these delicate con- 
ditions. At that moment a girl came to the door and opened 
it a hand's breadth. I gave her the letter and my card written 
in Arabic, murmured a few words of regret, and went away. 
Mahmud now tried to explain the matter. It was one of those 
long stories that you hear in the East, without beginning, 
without end, and without any indication as to which of the 
protagonists is in the right, but an inherent probability that 
all are in the wrong. The Smatiyyeh had stolen some of the 
Seijari cattle, the sons of Ahmed had gone down into the 
village and killed two of the Arabs — in the castle it was said 
that the Arabs had attacked them and that they had killed 
them in self-defence — the Government, always jealous of the 
semi-independence of ruling sheikhs, had seized the oppor- 
tunity to strike down the Seijari whether they were at fault 
or no : soldiers had been sent from Hamah, one of Ahmed's 
sons had been put to death, two more were in prison, and all 
the cattle had been carried off. The rest of the Seijaris were 
ordered not to stir from the castle, nor indeed could they do 
so, for the Smatiyyeh were at their gates ready and anxious 
to kill them if they stepped beyond the walls. They appealed 



THE DESERT AND THK SOWN 237 

to Hamah for protection, and a guard of some ten soldiers 
was posted by the river, whether to preserve the lives of the 
sheikhs or to keep them the more closely imprisoned it was 
difficult to make out. These events dated from two years 
back, and for that time the Seijaris had remained prisoners at 
IJamah and in their own castle, and had been unable to superin- 
tend the cultivation of their fields, which were running in conse- 
quence to rack and ruin. Moreover, there seemed to be no 
prospect of improve- 
ment in the situa- 
tion. Later in the 
afternoon a mes- 
senger arrived say- 
ing that Ahmed's 
brother, 'Abd ul 
Kadir, would be 
pleased to receive 
me and would have 
come himself to wel- 
come me if he could 
have left the castle, 

I went up with- KAL'AI ES SEIJAB, the CUITING THROUGH 

out Mahmud Snd 

heard the whole story again from the point of view of the 
sheikhs, which helped me to no conclusion, since it was in 
most essentials a different story from that which I had heard 
from Mahmiid. The only indisputable point (and it was prob- 
ably not so irrelevant as it seems) was that the Seijari wornen 
were wonderfully beautiful. They wore dark blue Bedouin dress, 
but the blue cloths hanging from their heads were fastened 
with heavy gold ornaments, like the plaques of the Mycenaean 
treasure, one behind either temple. Agreeable though their com- 
pany proved to be I was obliged to cut my visit short by reason 
of the number of fleas that shared the captivity of the family. 
Two of the younger women walked down with me through 
the ruins of the castle, but when we reached the great outer 
gate they stopped and looked at me standing on the threshold. 
" Allah ! " said one, " you go forth to travel through the 
whole world, and we have never been to Hamah ! " 



238 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

I. saw them in tlie gateway when I turned again to wave 
them a farewell. Tall and straight they were, and full of 
supple grace, clothed in narrow blue robes, their brows bound 
with gold, their eyes following the road they might not tread. 
For whatever may happen to the sheikhs, nothing is more cer- 
tain than that women as lovely as those two will remain im- 
prisoned by their lords in Kal'at es Seijar. 

We rode next day by cultivated plains to Kal'at el Mudik, 
a short stage of under four hours. Although there were several 
traces of ruined towns — one in particular I remember at a 
hamlet called Sheikh Hadid, where there was a mound that 
looked as if it might have been an acropolis — the journey 
would have been uninteresting but for Mahmud's stories. 
His talk ran through the characteristics of the many races 
that make up the Turkish empire, with most of which he was 
familiar, and when he came to the Circassians it appeared 
that he shared my aversion to them. 

" Oh lady," said he, " they do not know what it is to make 
return for kindness. The father sells his children, and the 
children would kill their own father if he had gold in his belt. 
It happened once that I was riding from Tripoli to Homs, and 
near the khan — you know the place — I met a Circassian walk- 
ing alone. I said : ' Peace be upon you ! Why do you 
walk ? ' for the Circassians never go afoot. He said : ' My 
horse has been stolen from me, and I walk in fear upon this 
road.' I said : ' Come with me and j^'ou shall go in safety to 
Homs.' But I made him walk before my horse, for he was 
armed with a sword, and who knows what a Circassian will do 
if you cannot watch him ? And after a little we passed an old 
man working in the fields, and the Circassian ran out lo him 
and spoke with him, and drew his sword as though to kill him. 
And I called out : ' What has this old man done to you ? ' 
And he replied : ' Bj^ God ! I am hungry, and I asked him 
for food, and he said " I have none ! " wherefore I shall kill 
him.' Then I said : ' Let him be. I will give you food.' 
And I gave him the half of all I had, bread and sweetmeats and 
oranges. So we journeyed until we came to a stream, and I 
was thirsty, and I got off my mare and holding her by the bridle 
I stooped to drink. And I looked up suddenly and saw the 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 239 

Circassian with his foot in my stirrup on the other side of 
the mare, for he designed to mount her and ride away. And, 
by God ! I had been a father and a mother to him, therefore 
I struck him with my sword so that he fell to the ground. 
And I bound, him and drove him to Homs and dehvered him 
to the Government. This is the -.manner of the Circassians, 
may God curse them ! " 

I asked him of the road to Mecca and of the hardships that 
the pilgrims endure upon the way. 

" By the Face of God ! they suffer," said he. " Ten 
marches from Ma'an to Meda'in Saleh, ten from there to 
Medina, and ten from Medina to Mecca, and the last ten are 
the worst, for the Sherif of Mecca and the Arab tribes plot 
together, and the Arabs rob the pilgrims and share the booty 
with the Sherif. Nor are the marches like the marches of 
gentlefolk when they travel, for sometimes there are fifteen 
hours between water and water, and sometimes twenty, and 
the last march into Mecca is thirty hours. Now the Govern- 
ment pays the tribes to let the pilgrims through in peace, 
and when they know that the Hajj is approaching they 
assemble upon the hills beside the road and cry out to the 
Amir ul Hajj : ' Give us our dues, 'Abd ur Rahman Pasha ! ' 
And to each man he gives according to his rights, to one money, 
and to another a pipe and tobacco, to a third a kerchief, and 
to a fourth a cloak. Yet it is not the pilgrims that suflei 
most, but those who keep the forts that guard the water tank? 
along the road, and every fort is like a prison. It happened 
once that I was sent with the military escort, and my horse 
fell sick and could not move, and they left me at one of the 
forts between Meda'in Saleh and Medina till they should re- 
turn. Six weeks or more I lived with the keeper of the fort, 
and we saw no one, and we eat and slept in the sun, and eat 
again, and slept, for we could not ride out for fear of the 
Howeitat and the Beni 'Atiyyeh who were at war together. 
And the man had lived there ten years and never gone a 
quarter of an hour from that spot, for he watched over the 
stores that feed the Hajj when it passes. By the Prophet of 
God ! " said Mahmud, with a sweeping gesture of the hand tr^am 
earth to sky, " for ten years he had seen nothing but the earth 



240 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and God ! Now he had a little son, and the boy was deaf 
and dumb, but his eyes saw further than any man's, and he 
watched all day from the top of the tower. And one day 
he came running to his father and pointed with his hands, 
and the father knew he had seen a raiding party far off, and 
we hastened within and shut the doors. And the horsemen 
drew near, five hundred of the Beni *Atiyyeh, and they 
watered their mares and demanded food, and we threw down 
bread to them, for we dared not open the doors. And while 
they eat there came across the plain the raiders of the Howeitat, 
and they began to fight together by the castle wall, and they 
fought until the evening prayer, and those who lived rode 
away, leavmg their dead to the number of thirty. And we 
remained all night with locked doors, and at dawn we went 
down and buried the dead. But it is better to live in a fortress 
by the Haj j road," he continued, " than to serve as a soldier 
in Yemen, for there the soldiers receive no pay and of food 
not enough on which to live, and the ^pn bums like a fire. In 
Yemen if a man stood in the shade and saw a purse of gold 
lying in the sun, by God ! he would not go but to pick it 
up, for the heat is like the fire of hell. Oh lady, is it true 
that in Egypt the soldiers get their pay week by week and 
month by month ? " 

I replied that I believed it to be the case, such being the 
custom in the English army. 

" As for us," said Mahmud, " our pay is always due to us 
for half a year, and often out of twelve months' pay we receive 
but six months'. Wallah ! I have never touched more than 
eight months' pay for a complete year. Once," he added, 
" I was in Alexandria — Masha'llah, the fine city ! Houses 
it has as big as the palaces of kings, and all the roads have 
paved edges whereon the people walk. And there I saw a 
cabman who sued a lady for his fare, and the judge gave it to 
him. By the Truth ! the ways of judges are different with 
us," observed Mahmud thoughtfully ; and then, with an abrupt 
transition, he exclaimed : " Look, oh lady ! there is Abu 
Sa'ad." 

I looked, and saw Abu Sa'ad walking in the ploughed field, 
with his white coat as spotless as though he had not just alighted 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 241 

from a journey as long as one of Mahmud's, and his black 
sleeves folded neatly against his sides, and I made haste to 
welcome the Father of Good Luck, for in Syria the first stork 
is like the first swallow with us. He cannot, however, any more 
than the swallow make summer, and we rode that day into 
Kal'at el Mudlk, in drenching rain. 

Kal'at el Mudik is the Apamea of the Seleucids. It was 
founded by Seleucus Nicator, that great town builder who 
had so many 

cities for his | 

g o d-d a u g h- 
ters: Seleucia 
in Pieria, Se- 
leucia on the 
Calycadnus, 
Seleucia in 
Babylonia, 
and more be- 
sides. Though 
it has been 
utterly de- 
stroyed by A CAPITAL. ,JA«iH 

earthquakes, 

enough remains in ruin to prove its ancient splendour, 
the wide circuit of its walls, the number ot its temples and 
the magnificence of its columned streets. You can trace 
the main thoroughfares from gate to gate by the heaped 
masses of the colonnades, and mark the stone bases of statues 
at the intersections of the ways. Here and there a massive 
portal opens into vacuity, the palace which it served having 
been razed to the groimd, or an armed horseman decorates the 
funeral stele on which the living merits of his prototype are 
recorded. The Christians took up the story where the Seleucid 
king-s had left it, and the ruins of a great church with a court- 
yard set round with columns lie on the edge of the main street. 
As I plunged in the soft spring rain through deep grass and 
flowers and clumps of asphodel, to the discomfiture of the 
grey owls that sat bh'nldng on the heaps of stones, the history 
and architecture of the town seemed an epitome of the 





♦ 



242 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

marvellous fusion between Greece and Asia that came of 
Alexander's conquests. Here was a Greek king whose 
capital lay on the Tigris, founding a city on the Orontes and 
calling it after his Persian wife — ^what builders raised the 
colonnades that adorned this and all the Greek-tinged towns 
of Syria with classic forms used in a spirit of Oriental lavish- 
ness ? what citizens walked between them, holding out hands 
to Athens and to Babvlon ? 

The only inhabited part of Kal'at el Mudik is the castle 
itself, which stands on the site of the Seleucid acropolis, a 
hill overlooking the Orontes valley and the Nosairiyyeh moun- 
tains. It is mainly of Arab workmanship, though many hands 
have taken part in its construction, and Greek and Arabic 
inscriptions are built pellmell into the walls. To the south 
of the castle there is a bit of classical building of which I 
have seen no explanation. It looks as if it might be part 
of the prosceniiun of the theatre, for the rising groimd behind 
it is scooped away in the shape of an auditorium. A very 
little digging would be enough to show whether traces of seats 
lie under the grassy tank. In the valley there is a ruined 
mosque and a fine khan, half ruined also. The Sheikh of the 
castle gave me coffee, and told me yet another version of the 
Seijari story, irreconcilable with either of the two first, whereat 
I congratulated myself on having early determined not to 
attempt to resolve that tangled problem. From the castle 
top the valley of the Orontes seemed to be all under water : 
it was the great swamp of the 'Asi, said the Sheikh, which dries 
in summer when the island villages (as I saw them now) re- 
sume their places as parts of the plain. Yes, certainly they 
were very unhealthy, summer and winter they were fever- 
stricken, and most of the inhabitants died young— lo, we belong 
to God and imto Him do we return ! In winter and spring 
these short-lived folk follow the calling of fishermen, but 
when the swamp dried they turn into husbandmen after a 
fashion of their own. They cut the reeds and sowed maize 
upon them, and set them alight, and the maize rose out of the 
ashes and grew — a phoenix-like method of agriculture. 

At Apamea the excellent cakes I had bought in Damascus 
came to an end — ^it seemed a serious matter at the time when 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 243 

the bill of fare was apt to be monotonous. Lunch was the 
least palatable of all our meals. Hard-boiled eggs and chunks 
of cold meat cease to tempt the appetite after they have been 
indulged in for a month or two. Gradually I taught Mikhail to 
vary our diet with all the resources the coimtry offered, olives 
and sheep's milk cheese, salted pistachios, sugared apricots 
and half-a-dozen other delicacies, including the Damascus 
cakes. The native servant, accustomed to feeding Cook's 
tourists on sardines and tinned beef, thinks it beneath the 
dignity of a European to eat such food, and you must go htmt 
the bazaars with him yourself and teach him what to buy, or 
you may pass through the richest coimtry and starve on cold 
mutton. 



CHAPTER XI 

The next day's journey is branded on my mind by an inci- 
dent which I can scarcely dignify with the name of an adven- 
ture — a misadventure let me call it. It was as tedious while it 
was happening as a real adventure (and no one but he who has 
been through them knows how tiresome they frequently are), 
and it has not left behind it that remembered spice of possible 
danger that enlivens fireside recollections. We left Kal'at 
el Mudik at eight in pouring rain, and headed northwards to the 
Jebel Zawiyyeh, a cluster of low hills that lies between the 
Orontes valley and the broad plain of Aleppo. This range con- 
tains a number of ruined towns, dating mainly from the fifth 
and sixth centuries, partially re-inhabited by Syrian fellahin, and 
described in detail by de Vogiie and Butler. The rain stopped 
as we rode up a low sweep of the hills where the red earth was 
all under the plough and the villages set in olive groves. The 
country had a wide bare beauty of its own, which was heightened 
by the dead towns that were strewn thickly over it. At first 
the ruins were little more than heaps of cut stones, but at Kefr 
Anbil there were some good houses, a church, a tower and a 
very large necropolis of rock-cut tombs. Here the landscape 
changed, the cultivated land shrank into tiny patches, the 
red earth disappeared and was replaced by barren stretches of 
rock, from out of which rose the grey ruins like so many colossal 
boulders. There must have been more cultivation when the 
district supported the very large population represented by 
the ruined towns, but the rains of many winters have broken 
the artificial terracings and washed the earth down into the 
valleys, so that by no possibility could the former inhabitants 
draw from it now sufficient produce to sustain them. North- 
east of Kefr Anbil, across a labj^rinth of rocks, appeared the 
walls of a wonderful village, Khirbet Hass, which I was particu- 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 245 

[arly anxious to see. I sent the mules straight to El B5rah, 
our halting place that night, engaged a villager as a guide over 
the stony waste, and set off with Mikhail and Mahmud. The 
path wound in and out between the rocks, a narrow band of 
grass plentifully scattered with stones ; the afternoon sun 
shone hot upon us, and I dismounted, took off my coat, bound 



it (as I thought) fast to my saddle, and walked on ahead amid 
the grass and flowers. That was the beginning of the mis- 
adventure. Khlrbet Hass was quite deserted save for a couple 
of black tents. The streets of the market were empty, the 
walls of the shops had fallen in, the church had long been aban- 
doned of worshippers, the splendid houses were as silent as 
the tombs, the palisaded gardens were untended, and no one 
«ime down to draw water from the deep cisterns. The charm 
and the mystery of it kept me loitering till the sun was neai 
the horizon and a cold wind had risen to remind me of my coat, 
but, lo ! when I returned to the horses it was gone from my 
saddle. Tweed coats do not grow on every bush in north 
Syria, and it was obvious that some effort must be made to 



246 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

recover mine. Mahmud rode back almost to Kefr Anbfl, and 
returned after an hour and a half empty handed. By this 
time it was growing dark ; moreover a black storm was blowing 
up from the east, and we had an hour to ride through very rough 
country. We started at once, Mikhail, Mahmud and I, picking 
our way along an almost invisible path. As ill luck would 
have it, just as the dusk closed in the storm broke upon us, 
the night turned pitch dark, and with the driving rain in our 
faces we missed that Medea- thread of a road. At this moment 
Mikhail's ears were assailed by the barking of imaginary dogs, 
and we turned our horses' heads towards the point from which 
he supposed it to come. This was the second stage of the mis- 
adventure, and I at least ought to have remembered that Mik- 
hail was always the worst guide, even when he knew the 
direction of the place towards which he was going. We 
stumbled on ; a watery moon came out to show us that our 
way led nowhere, and being assured of this we stopped and 
fired off a couple of pistol shots, thinking that if the village were 
close at hand the muleteers would hear us and majce some 
answering signal. None came, however, and we found our 
way back to the point where the rain had blinded us, only to be 
deluded again by that phantom barking and to set off again 
on our wild dog chase. This time we went still further afield, 
arid Heaven knows where we should ultimately have arrived 
if I had not demonstrated by the misty moon that we were 
riding steadily south, whereas El Barah lay to the north. At this 
we turned heavily in our tracks, and when we had ridden some 
way back we dismounted and sat down upon a ruined wall to 
discuss the advisability of lodging for the night in an empty 
tomb, and to eat a mouthful of bread and cheese out of Mah- 
mfid's saddle-bags. The hungry horses came nosing up to 
us; mine had half my share of bread, for after all he was 
doing more than half the share of work. The food gave us 
enterprise ; we rode on and found ourselves in the twinkling 
of an eye at the original branching off place. From it we 
struck a third path, and in five minutes came to the village 
of El Barah, round which we had been circling for three hours. 
The muleleers were fast asleep in the tents ; we woke them 
somewhat rudely, and asked whether they had not heard our 



MOULDING AT EL BARAH AND LINTEL AT KHIRBET HA33 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 249 

signals. Oh yes, they replied cheerfully, but concluding that 
it was a robber taking advantage of the stormy n^ht to kill 
some one, they had paid small attention. This is the whole 
tale of the misadventure ; it does credit to none of the persons 
concerned, and I blush to relate it. It has, however, taught 
me not to doubt the truth of similar occurrences in the lives 
of other travellers whom I have now every reason to believe 
entirely veracious. 
Intolerable 
though El BSrah 
may be by night, 
by day it is most 
marvellous and 
most beautiful. It 
is hke the dream 
city which chil- 
dren create for 
themselves to 
dwell in between 
bedtime and sleep- 
time, building 

palace after palace ,„^„ 

down the shming 

ways of the imagination, and no words can give the charm 
of it nor the magic of! the Syrian spring. The generations 
of the dead walk with you down the streets, you see them 
flitting across their balconies, gazing out of windows wreathed 
with white clematis, wandering in palisaded gardens that are 
stm planted with ohve and with vine and carpeted with iris, 
hyacinth and anemone. Yet you may search the chronicles for 
them in vain ; they played no part in history, but were content to 
live in peace and to build themselves great houses in which to 
dwdl and fine tombs to Ue in after they were dead. That they 
became Christian the hundreds of ruined churches and the 
cross carved over the doors and windows of their dwellings, 
would be enough to show ; that they were artists their decora- 
tions prove ; that they were wealthy their spacious mansions 
their summer houses and stables and out-houses testify. They 
borrowed from Greece such measure of cultivation and of the 



250 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

axts as they required, and fused with them the spirit of Oriental 
magnificence which never breathed without effect on the 
imagination of the West ; they hved in comfort and security 
such as few of their contemporaries can have known, and 
the Mahommadan invasion swept them off the face of the 
earth. 

I spent two days at El Barah and visited five cr six of the 
villages round about, the Sheikh of El Barah and his son serv- 
ing me as guides. The Sheikh was a sprightly old man called 
Yunis, who had guided all the distinguished archaeologists 
of his day, remembered them, and spoke of them by name — or 
rather by names of his own, very far removed from the originals. 
I contrived to make out those of de Vogu6 and Waddington, 
and another that was quite unintelligible was probably intended 
for Sachau. At Serjilla, a town with a sober and solid air 
of respectability that would be hard to match, though it is 
roofless and quite deserted, he presented me with a palace 
and its adjacent tomb that I might live and die in his neigh- 
bourhood, and when I left he rode with me as far as Deir San- 
bil to put me on my way. He was much exercised that day 
by a disturbance that had arisen in a village near at hand. 
A man had been waylaid by two others of a neighbouring 
village who desired to rob him. Fortunately a fellow towns- 
man had come to his assistance and together they had suc- 
ceeded in beating off the attack, but in the contest the friend 
had lost his Ufe. His relations had raided the robbers' village 
and carried off all the cattle. Mahmud was of opinion that 
they should not have taken the law into their own hands. 

" By God ! " said he, " they should have laid the case before 
the Government." 

But Yunis replied, with unanswerable logic : 

" Of what use was it to go to the Government ? They 
wanted their rights." 

In the course of conversation I asked Yunis whether he ever 
went to Aleppo. 

" By God ! " said he. " And then I sit in the bazaars and 
watch the consuls walking, each with a man in front clothed in 
a coat worth two hundred piastres, and the ladies with as it 
were flowers upon their heads." (The fashionable European 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 251 

hat, I imagine.) " I always go to Aleppo when my sons are in 
prison there," he explained. "Sometimes the gaoler is soft- 
hearted and a little money will get them out." 



I edged away from what seemed to be delicate groimd by 
asking how many sons he had. 

" Eight, praise be to God ! Each of my wives bore me fonr 
sons and two daughters." 

" Praise be to God ! " said I. 

" May God prolong your life ! " said Yunis, " My second 
wife cost me a great deal of money," he added. 



252 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" Yes ? " said I. 

" May God make it Yes upon you, oh lady ! I took her 
from her husband, and by God (may His name be praised and 
exalted !) I had to pay two thousand piastres to the husband 
and three thousand to the judge." 



This was too much for Hajj Mahmud's sense of the pro- 
prieties. 

" You took her from her husband ? " said he. " Wallah ! 
that was the deed of a Nosairi or an Ismaili. Does a Moslem 
take away a man's wife ? It is forbidden." 

" He was my enemy," explained Yunis, " By God and the 
Prophet of God, there H=3 enmity between us even unto death." 

" Had she children ? " inquired Mahmiid. 

" Ey wallah ! " assented the Sheikh, a little put about by 
Mahmud's disapproval. " But I paid two thousand piastres 
to the husband and three thousand " 

" By the Face of God ! " exclaimed Mahmud, still more 
outraged, " it was the deed of an infidel." 

And here I put an end to further discussion of the merits 
of the case by asking whether the wom£in had liked being 
carried off. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 253 

" Without doubt," said Yunis. " It was her wish." 

We may conclude, therefore, that ethics did not hare much 

to do with the matter, though he indemnified so amply both the 

husband and the judge. 
This episode led us to discuss the usual price paid for a wife. 



" For such as we," said Yunis, with an indescribable air 
of social pre-eminence, " the girl will not be less than four 
thousand piastres, but a poor man who has no money will give 
the father a cow or a few sheep, and he will be content," 

After he left us I rode round by Ruweiha that I might see 
the famous church by which stands the domed tomb of Bizzos, 
This church is the most beautiful in the Jebel Zawiyyeh, with 
its splendid narthex anrl carved doorways, its stilted arches 
and the wide-spanned arcades of its nave — how just was the 
confidence in his own mastery over his material which encou- 
raged the builder to throw those great arches from pier to pier is 
proved by the fact that one of them stands to this day. The 
little tomb of Bizzos is almost as perfect as it was when it 
was first built. By the doorway an inscription is cut in Greek : 



254 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" Bizzos son of Pardos. I lived well, I die well and well I rest. 
Pray for me." Ihe strangest features in all the architecture 
of North Syria are the half-remembered classical motives that 
find their way into mouldings that are almost Gothic iiT their 
freedom, and the themes of a classical entablature that grace 
church window or architrave. The scheme of Syrian decora- 
tion was primarily a row of circles or wreaths filled with whorls 
or with the Christian monogram ; but as the stonecutters grew 
more skilful they ran their circles together into a hundred 
exquisite and fanciful shapes of acanthus and palm and laurel, 
making a flowing pattern round church or tomb as varied as the 
imagination could contrive. The grass beneath their feet, 
the leaves on the boughs above their heads, inspired them 
with a wealth of decorative design much as they inspired 
William Morris twelve hundred years later. 

There is another church at Ruweiha scarcely less perfect 
than the Bizzos church, but not so splendid in design. It is 
remarkable for a monument standing close to the south wall, 
which has been explained as a bell tower, or a tomb, or a 
pulpit, or not explained at all. It is constructed of two stories, 
the lower one consisting of six columns supporting a plat- 
form, from the low wall of which rise four comer piers to carry 
the dome or canopy. The resemblance to some of the North 
Italian tombs, as, for instance, to the monument of Rolandino, 
in Bologna, is so striking that the beholder instinctively assigns 
a similar purpose to the graceful building at Ruweiha. 

We camped that night at Dana, a village that boasts a pyra- 
mid tomb with a porch of four Corinthian columns, as perfect 
in execution and in balanced proportion as anything you could 
wish to see. On our way from Ruweiha we passed a mansion 
which I would take as a type of the domestic architecture of 
the sixth century. It stood apart, separated by a mile or two of 
rolling country from any village, with open balconies facing 
towards the west and a delightful gabled porch to the north, 
such a porch as might adorn any English country house of to- 
day. You could fancy the sixth-century owner sitting on the 
stone bench within and watching for his friends — ^he can have 
feared no enemies, or he would not have built his dwelling far 
out in the country and guarded it only with a garden palisade. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 255 

At Kasr el BanSt, the Maidens' Fortress as the Syrians call it, 
I was impressed more than at any other place with the high 
level that social order had reached in the Jebel Zawiyyeh, lor 
here were security and weaJth openly displayed, and leisure 
wherein to cultivate the arts ; and as I rode away I fell to won- 
dering whether civilisation is indeed, as we think it in Europe, a 
resistless power sweeping forward and carrying upon its crest 



those who are apt to profit by its advance ; or whether it is not 
rather a tide that ebbs and flows, and in its ceaseless turn ajid 
return touches ever at the flood the self-same place upon the 
shore. 

Late at night one ot Sheikh Yunis's sons rode in to ask us 
whether his father were still with us. On leaving us that 
enterprising old party had not, it seemed, returned to the 
bosom of his anxious family, and I have a suspicion that his 
friendly eagerness to set us on our way was but part of a deep- 
laid plot by means of which he hoped to be able to take a hand 
in those local disturbances that had preoccupied him during 
the morning. At any rate he had made off as soon as we were 
out of sight, and the presumption was that he had hastened to 
join in the fray. What happened to him I never heard, but I 
am prepared to wager that whoever bit the dust at the village 
of El Mugh3ra it was not Sheikh Yunis. 



256 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Three rather tedious days lay between us and Aleppo. We 
might have made the journey in two, but I had determined to 
strike a little to the east in order to avoid the carriage road, 
which was well known, and to traverse country which, though it 
might not be more interesting, was at least less familiar. Five 
hours' ride from Dana across open rolling uplands brought us 
to Tarutm. ' We passed several ancient sites, re-occupied by 
half-settled Arabs of the Muwali tribes, though the old buildings 
were completely ruined. All along the western edges of the 
desert the Bedouin are beginning to cultivate the soil, and are 
therefore forced to establish themselves in some fixed spot near 
their crops. " We are become fellahin," said the Sheikh of 
Tarutin. In some distant age, when all the world is ploughed 
and harvested, there will be no nomads left in Arabia. In the 
initial stages these new-made farmers continue to live in tents, 
but the tents are stationary, the accompanying dirt cumu- 
lative, and the settlement unpleasing to any of the senses. The 
few families at Tarutm had not yet forgotten their desert manners, 
and we found them agreeable people,notwithstandingtheaccuracy 
with which the above remarks applied to their village of hair. 

I had not been in camp an hour before there was a great 
commotion among my men, and Mikhail came to my tent 
shouting, " The Americans ! the Americans ! " It was not 
a raid, but the Princeton archaeological expedition, which, 
travelling from Damascus by other ways than ours, was 
now making for the Jebel Zawiyyeh ; and a fortunate encoun- 
ter my camp thought it, for each one of us found acquaint- 
ances among the masters or among the muleteers, and had 
time to talk, as people will talk who meet by chance upon an 
empty road. Moreover, the day I spent at Tarutin provided 
me with an admirable object lesson in archaeology. As the 
members of the expedition planned the ruins and deciphered 
the inscriptions, the whole fifth-century town rose from its ashes 
and stood before us — churches, houses, forts, rock-hewn tombs 
with the names and dates of death of the occupants carved 
over the door. "^Next day we had a march of ten hours. We went 
north, passing a small mud-village called Helban, and another 
called Mughara Merzeh, where there were the remains of a 
church and rock-cut tombs of a very simple kind. (None of 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



«59 



these places are marktd on Kiepert's map.) Then we turned to 
the east and reached Tulul, where we came upon an immense 
expanse of flood water, stretching south at least twelve miles 
from the Matkh, the swamp in which the River Kuwek rises. 
At Tulul some Arab women were mourning over a new-made 
- grave. For three da^s after the dead are buried they weep 
thus at the grave 

side; only at Mecca I 

and at Medma, said 
Mahmud, there is no 
mourning for those 
who are gone. There 
when breath leaves 
the body the women 
give three cries, to 
make known to the 
world that the soul 
has fled ; but beyond 
these cries there is no 
lamentation, for it is 
forbidden that tears 
should fall upon the 
head of the corpse. 

The Lord has given 

and He has taken ™''°' "*"* 

away. So we went south along the edge of the high 
ground to a little hill called TeU Selma, where we turned 
east again and rounded the flood water and rode along its 
margin to a big village, Mo3^mat, half tents and half beehive 
huts built of mud. There is no other material but mud in 
which to buUd ; from the moment we left the rocky ground 
on which TT^rutin stands we never saw a stone — never a stone 
and never a tree, but an endless unbroken cornfield, with the 
first scarlet tulips coming into bloom among the young wheat. 
It was heavy going, though it was soft to the horses' feet. If 
there were a little more earth upon the hills of Syria and a few 
more stones upon the plain, travelling would be easier in that 
country ; but He, than whom there is none other, has ordered 
differently. From Moyemat we rode north-east until we came 



z6o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

to a village called Hober, at the foot of a spur of the Jebel el 
Hass, and here we <ried to camp, but could get neither oats nor 
barley, nor even a handful of chopped straw ; and so we went 
on to Kefr 'Abid, which is marked on the map, and pitched 
tents at six o'clock. The villages unknown to Kiepert are 
probably of recent constn^ction, indeed many of them are still 
half camp. They are exceedingly numerous ; about Hober I 
coimted five within a radius of a mile or two. The Arabs who 
inhabit them retain their nomad habits of feud. Each village 
has its allies and its blood enemies, and political relations 
are as delicate as they are in the desert. My diary contains 
the following note at the end of the day : " Periwinkles, white 
irises of the kind that were blue at El BSlrah, red and yellow 
ranunculus, storks, larks." These were all that broke the 
monotony of the long ride. 

About half an hour to the north of Kefr 'Abid there is a 
little beehive village which contains a very perfect mosaic of 
geometrical patterns. The fragments of other mosaics are to 
be found scattered through the village, some in the houses,, 
and some in the courtyards, and the whole district needs care- 
ful exploration while the new settlers are turning up the ground- 
and before they destroy what they may find. We reached 
Aleppo at midday, approaching it by an open drain. Whether 
it were because of the evil smell or because of the heavy sky 
and dust-laden wind I do not know, but the first impression 
of Aleppo was disappointing. The name, in its charming 
Europeanised form, should belong to a more attractive city, 
and attractive Aleppo certainly is not, for it is set in a barren, 
treeless, featureless world, the beginning of the great Meso- 
potamian flats. The site of the town is Uke a cup and saucer, 
the houses lie in the saucer and the castle stands on the up- 
turned cup, its minaret visible several hours away while no 
vestige of the city appears until the last mile of the road. I 
stayed two days, during which time it rained almost ceaselessly, 
therefore I do not know Aleppo — an Oriental city will not 
admit you into the circle of its intimates unless you spend 
months within its walls, and not even then if you will not take 
pains to please — ^but I did not leave without having perceived 
dimly that there was something to be known. It has been a 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 261 

splendid Arab city ; as you walk down the narrow streets you 
pass minarets and gateways of the finest period of Arab archi- 
tecture; some of the mosques and baths and khans {especially 
those half ruined and dosed) are in the same style, and the castle 
is the best example of twelfth-century Arab workmanship 
in all Syria, with iron doors of the same period — they are dated , 
— and beautiful bits of decoration. There must be some native 
vitality stitl that corresponds to these signs of past greatness. 



but the town has fallen on evil days. It has been caught 
between the jealousies of European concession hunters, and it 
suffers more than most Syrian towns from the strangling grasp 
of the Ottoman Government. It is slowly dying for want of 
an outlet to the sea, and neither the French nor the German 
railway will supply its need. Hitherto the two companies 
have been busUy engaged in thwarting one another. The 
original concession to the Rayak-Hamah railway extended 
to Aleppo and north to Birijik — I was told that the tickets to 
Birijikwere printed off when the first rails were laid at Rayak. 
Tlien came Germany, with her great scheme of a railway to 
Baghdad. She secured a concession for a branch line from 
Killiz to Aleppo, and did what she could to prevent the French 
from advancing beyond IJamSh, on the plea that the Fier.di 
railway would detract from the value of the German conces- 
Mon — my information, it may be well imagined, is not from 



262 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the Imperial Chancery, but from native sources in Aleppo itself. 
Since I left, the French have taken up their interrupted work 
on the Rayak-Hamah line, though it is to be carried forward, 
I believe, not to Birijik, but only as far as Aleppo.* It will be 
of no benefit to the town. Aleppo merchants do not wish to 
send their goods a three days' journey to Bey rout ; they want a 
handy seaport of their own, which will enable them to pocket 
all the profits of the trade, and that port should be Alexan- 
dretta* Neither does the Baghdad railway, if it be continued, 
offer any prospect of advantage. By a branch line already 
existing (it was built by English and French capitalists, but has 
recently passed under German control) the railway will touch 
the sea at Mersina, but Mersina is as far from Aleppo as is 
Beyrout. That a line should be laid direct from Aleppo to 
Alexandretta is extremely improbable, since the Sultan fears 
above all things to connect the inland caravan routes with the 
coast, lest the troops of the foreigner, and particularly of 
England, should find it perilously easy to land from their war- 
ships and march up country. Aleppo should be still, as it was 
in times past, the great distributing centre for the merchan- 
dise of the interior, but traffic is throttled by the fatal frequency 
with which the Government commandeers the baggage camels. 
Last year, with the Yemen war on hand and the consequent 
necessity of transporting men and military stores to the coast 
that they might be shipped to the Red Sea, this grievance had 
become acute. For over a month trade had been stagnant 
and goods bound for the coast had lain piled in the bazaar 
— a Httle more and they would cease to come at all, the camel 
Dwners from the East not daring to enter the zone of danger ta 
their beasts. Here, as in all other Turkish towns, I heard the 
cry of ofiicial bankruptcy. The Government had no funds 
wherewith to undertake the most necessary works, the trea- 
suries were completely empty. 

Though my stay was short I was not without acquaintances, 
among whom the most important was the Vali. Kiazim 
Pasha is a man of very different stamp from the Vali of Damas- 
cus. To the extent that the latter is, according to his lights, 
a real statesman, in so far is Kiazim nothing but a farceur. 
^ The line is now completed as far as Aleppo. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 265 

He received me in his harem, for which I was grateful when I 
saw his wife, who is one of the most beautiful women that it is 
possible to behold. She is tall and stately, with a small dark 
head, set on magnificent shoulders, a small straight nose, a 
pointed chin and brows arching over eyes that are like dark 
pools — I could not take mine from her face while she sat with 
us. Both she and her husband are Circassians, a fact that had 
put me on my guard before the Vali opened his lips. They 
both spoke French, and he spoke it very well. He received 
me in an offhand manner, and his first remark was : 

" Je suis le jeune pasha qui a fait la paix entre les 6glises." 

I knew enough of his history to realise that he had been 
Muteserrif of Jerusalem at a time when the rivalries between 
the Christian sects had ended in more murders than are cus- 
tomary, and that some kind ot uneasy compromise had been 
reached, whether through his ingenuity or the necessities of 
the case I had not heard. 

" How old do you think I am ? " said the pasha. 

I replied tactfully that I should give him thirty-five years. 

" Thirty-six ! " he said triumphantly. " But the consuls 
listened to me. Mon Dieu ! that was a better post than this, 
though I am Vali now. Here I have no occasion to hold con- 
ferences with the consuls, and a man .like me needs the society 
of educated Europeans." 

(Mistrust the second : an Oriental official, who declares that 
he prefers the company of Europeans.) 

" I am very Anglophil," said he. 

I expressed the gratitude of my country in suitable terms. 
But what are you doing in Yemen ? " he added quickly. 
Excellency," said I, "we English are a maritime people, 
and there are but two places that concern us in all Arabia." 

" I know," he interpolated. " Mecca and Medina." 

" No," said I. " Aden and Kweit." 

" And you hold them both," he returned angrily — yes, I arn 
bound to confess that the tones of his voice were not those of 
an Anglo-maniac. 

Presently he began to tell me that he alone among pashas 
had grasped modem necessities. He meant to buila a fine 
metalled road to Alexandr^tta — ^not that it will be of much use, 






266 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

thought I,, if there axe no camels to walk in it — ^like the road 
he had built from Samaria to Jerusalem. That was a road 
like none other in Turkey — did I know it ? I had but lately 
travelled over it, and seized the opportunity of congratulating 
the maker of it ; but I did not tffink it necessary to mention 
that it breaks off at the bottom of the only serious ascent and 
does not begin again till the summit of the Judaean plateau is 
reached. 

This is all that need be said of Kiazim Pasha's methods. 

A far more S)mipathetic acquaintance was the Greek Catholic 
Archbishop, a Damascene educated in Paris and for some time 
cur6 of the Greek CathoUc congregation in that city, though 
he is still comparatively young. I had been given a letter to 
him, on the presentation of which he received me with great 
affability in his own house. We sat in a room filled with 
books, the windows opening on to the silent courtyard of his 
palace, and talked of the paths into which thought had wan- 
dered in Europe ; but I found to my pleasure that for all his 
learning and his long sojourn in the West, the Archbishop had 
remained an Oriental at heart. 

" I rejoiced," said he, " when I was ordered to return from 
Paris to my own land. Tliere is much knowledge, but little 
faith in France ; while in Syria, though there is much ignorance, 
reUgion rests upon a sure foundation of belief." 

The conclusion that may be drawn from this statement is 
not flattering to the Church, but I refrained from comment. 

He appeared in the afternoon to return my call — from the 
Vali downwards all must conform to this social obligation — 
wearing his gold cross and carrying his archiepiscopal staff 
in his hand. From his tall brimless hat a black veil fell dowa 
his back, his black robes were edged with purple, and an ob- 
sequious chaplain walked behind him. He found another 
visitor sitting with me in the inn parlour, Nicola Homsi, a rich 
banker of his own congregation. Homsi belongs to an im- 
portant Christian family settled in Aleppo, and his banking 
house has representatives in Marseilles and in London. He 
and the Archbishop between them were fairly representative 
of the most enterprising and the best educated classes in S3^a. 
It is they who suffer at the hands of the Turk, — ^the ecclesiastic. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 267 

because ot a blind and meaningless official opposition that 
meets the Christian at every turn ; the banker, because his 
interests call aloud for progress, and progress is what the Turk 
will never understand. I therefore asked them what they 
thought would be the future of the country. They looked 
at one another, and the Archbishop answered : 

" I do not know. I have thought deeply on the subject, 
and I can see no future for Syria, whichever way I turn." 

That is the only credible answer I have heard to any part 
of the Turkish question. 

The air of Aleppo is judged by the Sultan to be particularly 
suitable for pashas who have fallen under his displeasure at 
Constantinople. The town is so full of exiles that even 
the most casual visitor can scarcely help making acquaint- 
ance with a few of them. One was lodged in my hotel, a mild- 
mannered dyspeptic, whom no one would have suspected of 
revolutionary sympathies. Probably he was indeed without 
them, and owed his banishment merely to some chance word, 
reported and magnified by an enemy or a spy. I was to see 
many of these exiles scattered up and down Asia Minor, and 
none that I encoimtered could tell me for what cause they 
had suffered banishment. Some, no doubt, must have had 
a suspicion, and some were perfectly well aware of their offence, 
but most of them were as innocently ignorant as they professed 
to be. Now this has a wider bearing on the subject of Turkish 
patriotic feeling thaij may at first appear; for the truth is 
that these exiled pashas are very rarely patriots paying the 
price of devotion to a national ideal, but rather men whom 
an unlucky turn of events has alienated from the existing 
order, if there is any chance that they may be taken back 
into favour you will find them nervously anxious, even in 
exile, to refrain from action that would tend to increase official 
suspicion; and it is only when they have determined that 
there is no hope for them as long as the present Sultan lives, 
that they are willing to associate freely with Europeans or to 
speak openly of their grievances. There is, so far as I can see, 
no organised body of liberal opinion in Turkey, but merely indi- 
vidual discontents, founded pn personal misfortune. It seems 
improbable that when the exiles return to Constantinople 



268 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

on the death of the Sultan they will provide any scheme of re- 
form or show any desire to alter a systemunderwhich, by the 
natural revolution of affairs, they will again find themselves 
persons of consideration. 

There is another form of exile to be met with in Turkey, 
the honourable banishment of a distant appointment. To 
this class, I fancy, belongs Nazim Pasha himself, and so does 
my friend Muhammad 'Ali Pasha of Aleppo. The latter 
is an agreeable man of about thirty, married to an English 
wife. He accompanied me to the Vali's house, obtained 
permission that I should see the citadel, and in many ways 
contrived to make himself useful. His wife was a pleasant 
little lady from Brixton ; he had met her in Constantinople 
and there married her, which may, for ought I know, have 
been partly the reason of his fall from favour, the English 
nation not being a gens grata at Yildiz Kiosk. Muhammad 
'Ali Pasha is a gentleman in the full sense of the word, and 
he seems to have made his wife happy ; but it must be clearly 
understood that I could not as a genereJ rule recommend 
Turkish pashas as husbands to the maidens of Brixton. 
Though she played tennis at the Tennis Club, and went to 
the sewing parties of the European colony, she was obliged 
to conform to some extent to the habits of Moslem women. 
She never went into the streets without being veiled ; 
" because people would tsdk if a pasha's wife were to show 
her face," said she. 

We reached the citadel in the one hour of sunlight that 
shone on Aleppo during my stay, and were taken round by 
polite officers, splendid in uniforms and clanking swords and 
spurs, who were particularly anxious that I should not miss 
the small mosque in the middle of the fortress, erected on the 
very spot where Abraham milked his cow. The very name 
of Aleppo, said they, is due to this historic occurrence, and 
there can be no doubt that its Arabic form, IJaleb, is com- 
posed of the same root letters as those that form the verb to 
milk. In spite of the deep significance of the mosque, I was 
more interested in the view from the top of the minaret. 
The Mesopotamian plain lay outspread before us, as flat as a 
board — Euphrates stream is visible from that tower on a 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 269 

clear day, and indeed you might see Baghdad but for the 
tiresome way in which the round earth curves, for there is 
no barrier to the eye in all that great level. Below us, were 
the clustered roofs of bazaar and kh5n, with here and there 
a bird's-eye glimpse of marble court3'ards, and here and there 
the fine spire of a minaret. Trees and water were lacking 
in the landscape, and water is the main dif&culty in Aleppo 
itself. The slu^sh stream that flows out of the Matkh 
dries up in the summer, and the wells are brackish all the year 
round. Good drinking water must be brought from a great 
distance and costs every household at least a piastre a day, 
a serious addition to the cost of living. But the climate is 
good, sharply cold in winter and not over hot for more than 
a month or two in the summer. Such is Aleppo, the great city 
with the high-sounding name and the traces of a splendid 
past. 



CHAPTER XII 

All my leisure moments during the two daj^ in Aleppo 
were occupied in changing muleteers. It seemed a necessary, 
if a regrettable measure. At Antioch we should reach the 
limits of the Arabic-speaking population. IJabib and his 
father had no word of Turkish, Mikhail owned to a few sub- 
stantives such as egg, milk and piastre, while I was scarcely 
more accomplished. I shrank from plunging with my small 
party into lands where we should be unable to do more than 
proclaim our most pressing needs or ask the way. The re- 
markable aptitude of north Syrian muleteers had been much 
vaunted to me — the title of muleteer is really a misnomer, 
for as a fact the beast of burden in these parts is a sorry nag, 
kadish, as it is called in Arabic ; from Alexandretta to Konia 
I doubt if we ever saw a mule, certainly we never saw a 
caravan of mules. I had heard, then, that I should not begin 
to know what it was to travel in comfort, without worry or 
responsibility, and with pimctucdity and speed, until I had 
reorganised my service, and that when I reached Konia I 
should be able to break up my caravan if I pleased, and as I 
pleased, and the Aleppo men Would find their way home 
with another load. So I said good-bye to my Beyroutis — 
and to peace. 

The system on which the journey was henceforth con- 
ducted was the sweating system. The sweater was a tootli- 
less old wretch, Faris by name, who shared with his brother 
one of the largest teams of baggage animals in Aleppo. 
Owing to his lack of teeth he spoke Arabic and Turkish equally 
incomprehensibly ; he supplied me with four baggage-horses 
and rode himself on a fifth, for his own convenience and at 
his own expense, though he tried vainly to make me pay for 
his mount when we reached Konia ; he hired two boys, at a 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 271 

starvation wage, to do all the work of the camp and the 
march, and fed them on starvation fare. This unhappy 
couple went on foot (the independent men of the Lebanon 
iiad provided themselves with donkeys), and it was a part 
of their contract with Faris that he should give them shoes* 
but he refused to do so until I interfered and threatened to 
dock his wages of the price of the shoes and buy them myself. 
I was obliged also to look into the commissariat and see that 
the pair had at least enough food to keep them in working 
condition ; but in spite of all my efforts the hired boys deserted 
at every stage, and I suffered continual annoyance from the 
delays caused by the difficulty of finding others, and, still 
more, from the necessity of teaching each, new couple the 
details of their work — where the tent pegs were to be placed, 
how the loads were to be divided, and a hundred other small 
but important matters. I had also to goad Faris, who was 
furnished with a greater number of excuses for shirking labour 
than any man in Aleppo, into doing some share of his duty, 
and to superintend night and morning the feeding of my 
horses, which would otherwise have escaped starvation as 
narrowly as the hired boys. Finally, when we came to Konia, 
I found that Faris had turned the last of his slaves on to the 
street, and had refused categorically to take them back to 
their home at Adana, saying that when he escaped from my 
eye he could get cheaper men than they ; and since I would 
not abandon two boys who had, according to their stupid 
best, done what they could to serve me, I was obliged to help 
them to return to their native place. To sum up the evidence, 
I should say that those who recommend the muleteers of 
Aleppo and their abominable system can never have directed 
a well-trained and well-organised camp, where the work goes 
as regularly as Big Ben, and the men have cheerful faces and 
willing hands, nor can they have experience of real business- 
like travel, for that is possible only with servants who show 
courage in difficulties, enterprise and resource. I admit that 
my experience is small, and I confidently assert that it will 
never be larger, for I would bnng muleteers from Baghdad 
rather than engage Faris or his like a second time. 
It was just when the difficulties of the journey multiplied 



272 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

that Mikhail's virtue collapsed. Two days spent in drinking 
the health of his departing companions, with whom he was 
on excellent terms, as the members of a good camp should be, 
were enough to shatter the effects of two months' sobriety. 
From that: time forward the 'arak bottle bulked large in his 
saddle-bags, and though an 'arak bottle can be searched for 
and found in saddle-bags and broken on a stone, no amount 
of vigilance could keep Mikhail out of the wine shop when 
we reached a town. Adversity teaches many lessons ; I look 
back with mingled feelings upon the uneasy four weeks between 
our departure from Aleppo and the time when Providence 
sent me another and a better man and I hardened my heart 
to dismiss MikhaU, but 1 do not regret the schooling that was 
forced on me. 

Hajj Mahmud reached at Aleppo the term of his commission, 
and from him also I took a most reluctant farewell. The Vali 
provided me with a zaptieh whose name was Hajj Najib, a 
Kurd of unprepossessing appearance, who proved on acquain- 
tance a useful and obliging man, familiar with the district 
through which we travelled together, and with the people 
inhabiting it. We were late in starting, Mikhail being sodden 
with 'arak and the muleteers unhandy with the loads. The 
day (it was March 30) was cloudless, and for the first time 
the sun was unpleasantly hot. When we rode away at ten 
o'clock it was already blazing fiercely upon us, and the whole 
day long there was not a scrap of shade in all the barren track. 
We followed for a mile or so the Alexandretta high road, passing 
a cafe with a few trees about it, soon after which we struck 
aw?*y to the left and entered a path that led us into the bare 
rocky hills, and speedily became as rocky as thej Our course 
was east with a touch of north. At half-past twelve we stopped 
to lunch, and waited a full hour for the baggage, during which 
time I had leisure to reflect upon the relative marching speed 
of the new servants and the old, and on the burning heat of the 
sun that had not been so noticeable when we were riding. 
Half an hour further we passed a hovel, Yakit 'Ades, where 
Najib suggested that we might camp. But I decided that it 
was too early, and after we had given strict injunctions to 
Faris concerning the route he was to follow and the exact spot 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 273 

where we should camp, the zaptieh and I bettered our pace, 
and without going beyond a walk were soon out of sight of the 
others. We rode along the bottom of a bare winding valley, 
past several places that were marked on the map though 
they were no more than the smallest heaps of ruins, and at 
four o'clock turned up the northern slope of the valley and 
reached a hamlet, unknown to Kiepert, which Najib informed 
me to be Kbeshm. Here amid a few old walls and many 
modem refuse-heaps we found a Kurdish camp, one of the 
spring-time camps in which half nomadic people dwell with 
their flocks at the season of fresh grass. The walls of the tents, 
if tents they may be called, were roughly built of stone to a 
height of about five feet, but the roofs were of goats' hair cloth, 
raised in the centre by tent poles. The Kurdish shepherds 
crowded round us and conversed with Najib in their own 
tongue, which sounded vaguely famihar on account of its like- 
ness to Persian. They spoke Arabic also, a queer jargon full 
of Turkish words. We sat for some time on the rubbish-heap, 
watching for the baggage animals till I became convinced, in 
spite of Najib's assurances, that some hitch must have occurred 
and that we might watch for ever in vain. At this point the 
Kurdish sheikh announced that it was dinner time, and invited 
us to share the meal. One of the advantages of out-door life 
on short commons being that there is no moment of the day 
when you are not willing and ready to eat, we fell in joyfully 
with the suggestion. 

The Kurd has not been given a good name in the annals of 
travel. Report would have him both sulky and quarrelsome, 
but for my part I have found him to be endowed with most of 
the quaUties that make for agreeable social intercourse. We 
were ushered into the largest of the houses ; it was hght and 
cool, airy and clean, its peculiar construction giving it the 
advantages of house and of tent. The food consisted of new 
bread and sour curds and of an excellent pillaf , in which cracked 
wheat was substituted for rice. It was spread upon a mat, and 
we sat round upon rugs while the women served us. By 
the time we had finished it was six o'clock but no caravan had 
appeared. Najib was much perplexed, and our hosts sym- 
pathised deeply with our case, while declaring that they were 



274 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

more than willing to keep us for the night. Our hesitation 
was cut short by a small boy who came running in with the 
news that a caravan had been seen to pass by the village of 
Fafertin on the opposite side ol the valley, and that it was then 
heading for Kal'at Sim'Sn, oiir ultimate destmation. There 
was no tune to be lost, the sun had set, and I had a vivid recol- 
lection of our wanderings in the night about El BUrah in a 



country not dissimilar from that which lay in front of us, but 
before we started I took Najib aside and asked him whether I 
might give money in return for my entertainment. He replied 
that on no account was it to be thought of, Kiu^ds do not 
expect to be paid by their guests. All that was left me was 
to summon the children and distribute a handful of metaliks 
among them, an inexpensive form of generosity, and one that 
could not outrage the most susceptible feehngs. We set off, 
Najib leading the way and riding so quicldy along the stony 
path that I had the greatest difficulty in keeping up with him. 
I knew that the great church of St. Simon Stylites stood upon 
a hill and must be visible from afar, though tiie famous column 
of the saint, round wliich the church was built, had fallen 
centuries ago. After an hour's stumbling ride Najib pointed 
silently to the dim hills, and I could just make out a mass of 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 275 

something that looked like a fortress breaking the line of the 
summit. We hurried on for another half hour and reached 
the walls at 7.30 in complete darkness. As we rode throu^ 
the huge chiorch we heard to our relief a tinkle of caravan bells 
that assured vs of the arrival of the tents — we heard also the 
shouts and objurgations of Mikhail, who, under the influence of 
potations of 'arak, was raging like a wild beast and refusing to 



give the new muleteers any hint as to the way in which to deal 
with my English tent. Since I was the only sane person who 
knew how the poles were to be fitted together, the pegs driven 
in and the furniture opened out, I was obliged to do the greater 
part of the work myself by the light of two candles, and when 
that was over to search the canteen for bread and semen for 
the muleteers, an order to my rebellious cook that he should 
prepare the customary evening meal of rice having been greeted 
with derisive howls mingled with curses on all and sundry. 
It is ill arguing with a drunken man, but with what feelings I 
kept silence I hope that the recording angel may have omitted 
to note. 

At last, when all was ready, I wandered away into the sweet 
Spring night, through the stately and peaceful church below 
the walls of which we were lying, and presently found myself 



276 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

in a circular court, open to the sky, from whence the four arms 
of the church reach out to the four points of the compass. 
The court had been set roimd with a matchless colonnade, of 
which many of the arches are still standing, and in the centre 
rose in fonrier days the column whereon St. Simon lived and 
died. I scrambled over the heaps of ruin till I came to the rock- 
hewn base of that very column, a broad block of splintered 
stone with a depression in the middle, like a little bowl, filled 
with clear rain water in which I washed my hands and face. 
There was no moon; the piers and arches stood in ruined 
and shadowy splendour, the soft air lay still as an unruffled 
pool, weariness and vexation dropped from the spirit, and left 
it bare to Heaven and the Spring. I sat and thought how 
perverse a trick Fortune had played that night on the grim 
saint. She had given for a night his throne of bitter dreams 
to one whose dreams were rosy with a deep content that he 
would have been the first to condemn. So musing I caught 
the eye of a great star that had climbed up above the broken 
line of the arcade, and we agreed together that it was better 
to journey over earth and sky than to sit upon a column all 
your days. 

The members of the American survey have mapped and 
thoroughly explored the northern mountains as far as Kal'at 
Sim'an, but neither they nor any other travellers have pub- 
lished an accoimt of the hilly region to the north-east of the 
shrine.* I, who rode through it, and visited almost all the 
ruined villages, found that it was generally known to the 
inhabitants as the Jebel Sim'an, by which title I shall speak 
of it. The Mountains of Simon, with the Jebel Barisha, to 
the south-west, and the Jebel el 'Ala still further to the west, 
belong to the same architectural system as the Jebel Zawi3^eh, 
through which we had passed on our way to Aleppo. It 
would be possible to draw distinctions of style between the 
northern group and the southern ; the American architect, Mr. 
Butler, with his wide experience of the two districts, has been 

• Since writing this chapter I have learnt that Mr. Butler and his 
party extended their explorations to the north of Kal'at Sim'an 
after my departure, and I look forward to a full description of the 
district in their future publications. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 277 

able to do so, but to the hasty observer the difEerences appear to 
depend chiefly on natural conditions and on the fact that the 
northern district fell more directly under the influence of An- 
tioch, the city which was one of the main sources of artistic 
inspiration (not for Syria alone) in the early centuries of 
the Christian era. 
The settlements in 
the Jebel Sim'an are 
smaller and the in- 
dividual houses less 
spacious, possibly be- 
cause the northern 
mountains were 
much more rugged 
and unable to sup- 
port so large and 
wealthy a popula- 
tion ; they would 
seem to have begun 
earlier and to have 
reached the highest 
point of their pros- 
perity a little later, 
nor did they suffer 
the period of decline 

which is evident in kal'at sim'an thb west door 

the South during the 

century preceding the Arab invasion.* The finest sixth-crjtury 
churches in the north show an almost florid luxuriance of 
decoration unapproached in the latest of the Southern churches, 
all of which are to be dated a century earlier, except the Bizzos 
church at RuweihS. It is interesting to observe that the 
Ruweiha church, though it is a little later than Kal'at Sim'an, 
* I would suggest that this decline was due in part to the excessive 
burden of taxation laid by Justinian on the eastern provinces of his 
empire during his efiorts to recover the western. Readers of Diehl's 
great work on Justinian will remember bow the social and poUtical 
organisation of his dominions collapsed under the strain of his wars 
in Italy and North Africa. The eastern parts of the empire were 
the richest and sufiered the most. 



278 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

is far more severe in detail, and to this it may be added that 
even small houses in the north present not infrequently a 
greater variety and lavishness of decoration than is customary 
in the South.* Wlien the traveller reads the inscriptions on 
church and dwelling, and finds the dates reckoned in the north 
always by the era of Antioch, he may be pardoned for sur- 



mising that it was the magnificent hand of Antioch that touched 
here architrave and capital, moulding and string-course. The 
church of St. Simon was raised not by local effort only but as a 
tribute to the famous saint from the whole Christian world, 
and probably it was not executed by local workmen but by the 
builders and stone-cutters of Antioch ; if that be so it is diffi- 
cult not to attribute the lovely church of Kalb Lozeh to the 
same creative forces, and a dozen smaller examples, such as the 
east church at Bakirha, must be due to similar influences. 

I spent the morning examining the church of St. Simon and 
the village at the foot of the hill, which contains some very 
perfect basilicas and the ruins of a great hostelry for pilgrims. 

* This was noticed by Mr. Butler, " Architecture and other Arts." 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 279 

At lunch time there appeared upon the scene a Kurd, so 
engaging and intelUgent that I immediately selected hmi to be 
my guide during the next few daj^, the district I proposed to 
visit being blank on the map, stony and roadlcsH. Musa was 
the name of my new friend, and as we rode together in the 
afternoon he confided to my private ear that he was by creed 



a Yezidi, whom the Mohammedans call Devil Worshippers, 
though I fancy they are a harmless and well-meaning people. 
The upper parts of Mesopotamia are their home, and from 
thence Musa's family had originally migrated. We talked of 
beliefs as we went, guardedly, since our acquaintance was as yet 
young, and Musa admitted that the Yezidis worshipped the 
sun. " A very proper object of adoration," said I, and thinking 
to please him went on to mention that the Ismailis worshipped 
both sun and moon, but he could scarcely control his disgust 
at the thought of such idolatry. This led me to consider within 
myself whether the world had grown much wiser since the days 
when St. Simon sat on his column, and the conclusion that I 
reached was not flattering. 



28o THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

The rain intemipted our wanderings among the villages at 
the foot of Jebcl Sheikh Barakat, the high peak to the south- 
east of Kal'at Sim'an, and drove us home, but the clouds lifted 
again towards evening, iind I, watching from the marvellous 
west door, saw the hills turn the colour of red copper and the 
greiy walls of the church to gold. Mikh&il, depressed and 

r ■ "" 



repentant, served me with an excellent dinner, in spite of 
which I should have dismissed him if St. Simon could have 
supphed me with another cook. Indeed, I was half inclined 
to sen{^back to Aleppo for a new man, but the doubt whether 
I should secure a good servant by proxy, combined with the 
clemency of indolence, led me to a course of inaction which I 
attempted to justify by the hope that Mikhail's repentance 
would be of a lasting nature. Thus for a month we lived on 
A volcano with occasional eruptions, and were blown up at 
the end, * But enough of this painful subject. 

Next day I set off with Musa to explore the villages in the 
Jebel Sim'an to the east and north-east of the church of St. 
Simon. We rode almost due east for rather less than an hour 
to Burjkeh, which exhibited all the characteristics of thesp 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 281 

villages of the extreme north. It had the tall square tower, 
whicli is nearly universal. All the stone work was massive, 
(he blocks frequently laid not in courses, or if so laid, the courses 
showed great variety of depth. The church had a square apse, 
built out beyond the walls of the nave, and a running moulding 
hooded each window, passed along the level of the sill from one 



window to another, and ended beyond the last in a spiral, as 
though it had been a bit of ribbon festooned over the openings 
with the surplus rolled up. This moulding is pecuHarto sixth- 
century decoration in North Syria. The houses of Burjkeh 
were very simple square cottages, built of polygonal masonry. 
Musa got wind of a newly opened tomb near the church. I 
contrived with some difficulty to crawl down into it, and was 
rewarded by finding on one of the loculi the date 292 of the era 
of Antioch, which corresponds to 243 A.D. Below the date were 
three lines of Greek inscription, much defaced. We. rode on 
for half an hour to Surkanya, a deserted village, charmingly 
situated at the head of a shallow rocky valley in which there 



282 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

were even a few trees. The houses were exceptionally massive 
in construction, with heavy stone balconies forming a porch 
over the door. One was dated, and the year was 406 A.D. 
The church was almost exactly similar to that at Burjkeh. 
Another three quarters of an hour to the north and we reached 
_ Fafertin, where it began to 
I rain. We took shelter under 

an apse, which was all that 
remained of a church larger 
than any we had yet seen, 
but rude in workmanship.* 
The village was inhabited by 
a few famihes of Yezidi 
Kurds. In the streaming 
rain we rode for an hour 
north-east to Khirab esh 
Shems, but could do nothing 
there owing to the weather, 
and so north by Kaloteh to 
Burj el Kas, where I ioxmd 
my tents pitched on a damp 
sward. Musa was much dis- 
tressed by the heavy rain, 
and said that the wet spring 
had been disastrous to his 
fields, washing down the soil 
from the high ground into 
A FUNERAL MONUMENT :;t I ^^^ vallcys. Thc work of 
, denudation, which has so 

greatly diminished the fertihty of North Syria, is still going 
foi^ward. • 

At Burj el Kas there was a square tower on the top of the 
hill and some old houses that had been repaired and re-inhabited 
by the Kurds. On one lintel I saw the date 406 A.D., on another 
an inscnption diificult to decipher. The end of this stone was 
hidden by the angle of a rebuilt house, but peering along it I 

• Butler in his report states that this church is dated 372 a.d., 
which gives it the distinction ot being thc earliest dated church in 
Syria, if not the earliest dated church in the world. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 285 

could just make out that there was a small carving at the ex- 
treme point. The owner of the house announced that it repre- 
sented without doubt the Lady Mary. This would have been 
a curious addition to the meagre collection o£ sculpture in 
North Syria, as well as a theological innovation, and I 
expressed my regret that 1 could not see it better. There- 
upon my friend fetched a pickaxe and chipped off a corner 



of his house, and the figure of tlie Virgin proved to be a 
Roman eagle. 

With Najib and Miisa I returned to the villages that I had 
passed in the rain the previous day. We left Najib with the 
horses at Kaloteh, and ourselves walked to Khirab esh Shems, 
the path being so rocky that I wislied to spare my beasts a 
second journey over it, Khirab esh Shems contained a fine 
church, twenty-one paces long from the west door to the chord of 
the apse. The outer walls to north and south had fallen, leav- 
ing only the five arches on either side of the nave with a clere- 
story pierced by ten small round-headed windows, a charming 
fragment like a detached loggia. Further up the hill stood a 
massive chapel, destitute of aisles, with an apse built out and 
roofed with a semi-dome of square slabs, resembling the fifth 



286 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

century baptistery at Dar Kita.* In the hill side we found 
a number of rock-hewn tombs, in one of which I had the 
satisfaction to discover some curious reliefs. On the loculus 
to the left of the door were four roughly carved figures, 
their arms raised in the attitude of prayer, and on the 
rock wall in a dark comer a single figure clothed in a shirt 
and a pointed cap, holding a 
curious object, like a basket, 
in the right hand. Return- 
ing to Kaloteh we visited ar 
isolated church on some high 
ground to the west of the 
village. On the wall by the 
south door there was a long 
inscription in Greek, The 
nave was separated from the 
aisles by four columns on 
either side, some of which (to 
judge by the fragments) had 
been fluted and some plain. 
The arcade ended against 
the comer of the apse with 
engaged fluted columns carry- 
ing beautiful Corinthian capi- 
tals. The apse, prothesis and 
diaconicum were all con- 
tained within the outer wall 
of the church. The west door showed a stilted relieving arch 
above a broken lintel, the lintel decorated with a row of 
dentils. » To the south of the church there was a detached 
baptisterj', some 9 ft. square inside, the walls still carrying 
the first course of the stone vault. The church must have 
been roofed with tiles, for I saw a number of fragments 
lying in the nave. A massive enclosing wall surrounded 
both church and baptistery. The village below contained two 
churches, that to the v,-est measuring 38 ft. by 68 ft., the 
other 48 ft. by 70 it. The mouldings round tlie doors in 
both churches indicate that they cannot iiave been eariier than 
• Butler, '• Architecture and other Arts," p. 1 39. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 287 

the sixth century. There were also some houses with stone 
verandahs. 

An hour and a half to the north-west of Kaloteh lies BarSd, 
the laigfst snd most interesting of the villages in the Jebel 
Sim'an. It is partly le-inhabited by Kurds. I found my 
ca:np pitchej in an •pen space opposite a very lovely funeral 
mcnument conabtuif oi a canopy carried by four piers set on a 



h%h podium. Near it stood a large rock-cut sarcophagus and 
a number of other tombs, partly rock-cut and partly built. I 
examined two churches in the centre of tlie town. In one the 
nave, 68 ft. 6 in. long, was divided from the aisles by four great 
piers, 6 ft. deep from east to west, with an intercolumniation 
of 18 ft. The nave was 33 ft. wide and the apse 12 ft. deep. 
The wide intercolumniation is a proof of a comparatively late 
date, sixth century or thereabouts. The second church was still 
larger, 118 ft. 6 in. by 73 ft. 6 in., but completely ruined except 
for the west wall and part of the apse. To the north of it there 
was a small chapel, with an apse perfectly preserved ; near it 
lay a sarcophagus which suggested that the chapel may have 
tteen a mausoleum. The eastern end of the town contained i, 
complex of buildings of polygonal masonry, including a square 



288 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

enclosure with a square chamber m the centre of it, resting on a 
vault that was possibly a tomb. To the extreme west of the 
town stood a fine tower with some large and well preserved houses 
near it. A small church lay between it and the main body of 
the town. Near my camp was a curious building with two 
apses irregularly placed in the east wall. I take it to have 
been pre-Christian. The walls stood up to the vault, which 
was perfectly preserved. While Musa and I measured and 
planned this building we were watched by two persons in long 
white robes and turbans, who exhibited the greatest interest in 
our movements. They were, said Musa, Government officials, 
sent into the Jebel Sim'an to take a census of the population 
with a view to lev5dng the capitation tax. 

The next day was one of the most disagreeable that I re- 
member. A band of thick cloud stretched across the sky imme- 
diately above the Jebel Sim'an, keeping us in a cold grey shadow, 
while to north and south we saw the mountains and the plain 
bathed in sunshine. We rode north for about an hour to Kei- 
far, a large village near the extreme edge of the Jebel Sim'an. 
Beyond the valley of the Afrin, which bounds the hills to the 
north-west, rose the first great buttresses of the Giour Dagh 
Musa observed that in the valley and the further hills there 
were no more ruined villages ; they end abruptly at the limits 
of the Jebel Sim'an, and Syrian civilisation seems to have 
penetrated no further to the north, for what reason it is im- 
possible to say. At Keifar there were three churches much 
ruined, but showing traces of decoration exquisitely treated, a 
few good houses, and a canopy tomb something like the one at 
Barad. There was a large population of Kurds. We rode 
back to Barad and so south-east to Kefr Nebu, about an houi 
and a half away through bitter wind and rain. There was a 
Syriac inscription here on a lintel, one or two Kufic tomb- 
stones, and a very splendid house partially restored, but 
I was a great deal too cold to give them the attention 
they deserved. Chilled to the bone and profoundly dis- 
couraged by attempts at taking time exposures in a high 
wind, I made straight for my tents at Basufan, an hour's 
ride from Kefr Nebu, leaving unexplored a couple of ruined 
sites to the south. 



\ 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 291 

Musa's home is at BSsufan ; we met his father in the corn- 
fields as we came up, and : 

"God strengthen your body : " cried Musa, giving the saluta- 
tion proper to one working in the fields. 

" And your body ! " he answered, Ulting his dim eyes to us. 

" He is old," explained Musa as we rode on, " and trouble has 



fallen on him, but once he was the finest man in the Jebel 
Sim'an, and the best shot." 

" What trouble ? " said I. 

" My brother was slain by a blood enemy a Jew months ago," 
he answered. "We do not know who it was that killed him, 
but perhaps it was one of his bride's family, for he took her 
without their consent." 

" And what has happened to the bride ? " I asked- 

" She has gone back to her own family," said he. " But 
she wept bitterly." 

Basufan is used as a Sommerfrische by certain Jews and 
Christians of Aleppo, who come out and live in the houses of the 
Kurds during the hot months, the owners being at that season 
in tents. There are a few big trees to the south of the village 



292 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

sheltering a large graveyard, which is occupied mostly by Mos- 
lem de^d, brought to this spot from many miles round. The 
valley below boasts a famous spring, a spring that never runs 
dry even in rainless years when all its sister fountains are ex- 
hausted. 

The Kurds used to grow tobacco on the neighbotuing slopes, 
and the quality of the leaf was much esteemed, so that the crop 
foimd a ready sale, till the Government r^gie was established 
and paid the Kurds such miserable prices that they were unable 
to make a profit. As there was no other market, the industry 
ceased altogether, and the. fields have passed out of cultivation 
except for the raising of a little com : " and now we are all 
poor," said Musa in conclusion. 

I had not been an hour in camp before the rain stopped and 
the sun Tame out, bringing back our energy with it. There was 
a large church at BasufSn, which had been converted at some 
period into a fort by the addition of three towers. What 
remained of the original building was of excellent work. The 
engaged columns by the apse were adorned with spiral flutings 
— the first example I had seen — and the Corinthian capitals were 
deep and careful in cutting. Musa showed me a Sjoiac inscrip- 
tion in the south wall, which I copied with great labour and 
small success : the devil take all Syriac inscriptions, or endow 
all travellers with better wits ! When this was done there still 
remained a couple of hours of afternoon light, and I determined 
to walk over the hills to Bur] Heida and Kefr Lab, which I had 
omitted in the morning owing to the rain and the cold. Musa 
acco npanied me, and took with him his " partner " — so he was 
introduced to me, but in what enterprise he shared I do not 
know. Bur] Heida was well worth the visit. It contained a 
square tower and three churches, one exceedingly well pre- 
served, with an interesting building annexed to it, perhaps a 
lodging for the clergy. But the expedition was chiefly memo- 
rable on account of the conversation of my two companions. 
With Musa I had contracted, during the three days we had passed 
together, a firm friendship, based on my side on gratitude for 
the services he had rendered me, coupled with a warm apprecia- 
tion of the beaming smile that accompanied them. We had 
reached a point of familiarity where I thought I might fairly 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 293 

expect him to enlighten me on the Yezidi doctrines, for, what- 
ever may be the custom in Em-ope, in Asia it is not polite to 
ask a man what he believes imless he regards you as an intimate. 
Nor is it expedient ; it awakens suspicion without evoking a 
satisfactory answer. 1 began delicately as we sat in the door- 
way of the little church at Kefr Lab by asking whether the 
Yezidis possessed mosque of church. 

*' No," replied Musa. " We worship under the open sky. 
Every day at dawn we worship the sun." 

" Have you," said I, '' an imam who leads the prayer ? " 

" On feast days," said he, " the sheikh leads the prayer, but 
on other days every man worships for himself. We count 
some days lucky and some imlucky. Wednesday, Friday and 
Sunday are our lucky days, but Thursday is unlucky." 

" Why is that ? " said I. 

" 1 do not know," said Musa. " It is so." 

'* Are you," I asked, " fnends with the Mohammadans or 
are you foes ? " 

He answered : *' Here in the country round Aleppo, where 
we are few, they do not fear us, and we live at peace with them ; 
but every year there comes to us from Mosul a very learned 
sheikh who collects tribute among us, and he wonders to see us 
like brothers with the Muslimin, for in Mosul, where the Yezidis 
are many, there is bitter feud. In Mosul our people wiU not 
serve in the army, but here we serve like any other — I myself 
have been a soldier." 

" Have you holy books } " said I. 

"Without doubt," said he, "and I will tell you what 
our books teach us. When the end of the world is near 
Hadudmadud will appear on earth. And before his time 
the race of men will have shrunk in stature so that they are 
smaller than a blade of grass, — ^but Hadudmadud is a mighty 
giant. And in seven days, or seven months, or seven years, he 
will drink all the seas and all the rivers, and the earth will be 
drained dry." 

" And then," said the partner, who had followed Musa's 
explanation eagerly, " out of the dust will spring a great worm, 
and he will devour Hadudmadud." 

" And when he has eaten him," continued Musa, " there will 



294 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

be a flood which will last seven days, or seven months, or seven 
years." 

" And the earth will be washed clean," diimed in the 
partner. 

" And then will come the Mahdi," said Musa, "and he will 
summon the four sects, Yezidis, Christians, Moslems and Jews, 
and be will appoint the prophet of each sect to coUect his fol- 
lowers together. And Yezid will assemble the Yezidis, and 
Jesus the Christians, and Muhammad the Moslems, and Moses 
the Jews. But those that while they lived changed from one 
faith to another, they shall be tried by fire, to see what creed 
they profess in their hearts. So shall each prophet know his 
own. This is the end of the world." 

" Do you," said I, " consider all the four faiths to be equal ? " 

Musa replied (diplomatically perhaps) : " The Christians and 
the Jews we think equal to us." 

" And the Moslems ? " I inquired. 

*' We think them to be swine," said Musa. 

These are the tenets of Musa's faith, and what they signify 
I will not pretend to say, but Hadudmadud is probably Gog- 
magog, if that throws any light on the matter. 

The sun was setting when we rose from the church step and 
began to clamber homeward over the ruins of Kefr Lab. There 
was some broken groimd beyond the \illage, and I noticed 
large cavities under the rocks at the top of the hill. Before 
them Musa's partner paused, and said : 

" In this manner of place we look for treasure." 

" And do you find it } " said I. 

He replied : " I have never found any, but there are many 
tales. Once, they say, there was a shepherd boy who lost his 
goat and searched for it over the hills, and at last he came 
upon it in a cave full of gold coins. Therefore he dosed the 
mouth of the cave and hastened home to fetch an ass whereon 
he might load the gold, and in his haste he left the goat in the 
cave. But when he returned there was neither cave, nor goat, 
nor gold, search as he would." 

" And another time," said Musa, " a boy was sleeping in the 
ruins of Kefr Lab and he dreamt that he had discovered a great 
treasure in the earth and that he had dug for it with his hands. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 295 

and when he woke his hands were covered with the dust of gold 
but no memory remained to him of the place wherein he had 
dug." 

Neither of these stories offer sufficient data, however, to 
warrant the despatch 
of a treasure-hunting 
expedition to the 
Jebel Sim'an. 

As we reached 
B^suf^n Miisa asked 
whether his sister 
Wardeh {the Rose) 
might honour herself 
by paying her re- 
spects to me. " And 
will you," he added, 
" persuade her to 
marry ? " 

" To marry ? " said 
I. " Whom should 
she marry ? " 

" Any one," said 
Musa imperturbably. 
" She has declared 
that marriage is hate- 
ful to her, and that 
she will remain in our 

father's house, and bXsofax, a kurdish g.rl 

we cannot move her. Yet she is a young maid and fair." 

She looked very fair, and modest besides, as she stood at thi 
door of my tent in the pretty dress of ihe Kurdish women, with a 
bowl of kaimak in her hands, a propitiatory gift to me ; and I 
confess I did not insist upon the marriage question, thinking 
that she could best manage her own affairs. She brought me 
new bread for breakfast next morning, and begged me to come 
and visit her father's house before I left. This I did, and found 
the whole family, sons and daughters-in-law and grand- 
chUdren, assembled to welcome me ; and though I had but 
recently breakfasted, the old father insisted on setting bread 



296 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

and bowls of cream before me, " that the bond of hospitality 
may be between us." Fine, well-built people were they all, 
with beautiful faces, illumined by the smile that was Musa's 
chief attraction. For their sake the Kurdish race shall hold 
hereafter a large place in my esteem. 



CHAPTER XIII 

We started from Basufan at eight o'clock on the morning of 
April 4, and rode south by incredibly stony tracks, leaving 
Kal'at Sim'an to the west and skirting round the eastern 
flanks of the Jebel Sheikh Barakat. Musa declared that he 
must accompany us on the first part of our way, and came with 
us to Deiret 'Azzeh, a large Mohammadan village of from three 
nundred to four himdred houses. Here he left us, and we went 
down into the fertile plain of Sermeda, ringed round with the 
slopes of th^ Jebel Halakah. At mid-day we reached the large 
village of Dana, and lunched by the famous third-century tomb 
that de Vogu6 published, to my mind the loveliest of the 
smaller monuments of North Syria and worthy in its delicate 
simplicity to stand by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at 
Athens. There was nothing else to detain us at Dana, and 
having waited for the baggage animals to come up I sent them 
on with Mikhail and a local guide, bidding them meet Najlb 
and me at the ruins of Dehes. After some consultation Najib 
and the local man decided on the spot, known to me only from 
the accounts of travellers, and it was not till we had reached it 
that I discovered that we were at Mehes instead of Dehes. It 
was all one, however, since we had met and foimd the place to 
be a convenient camping-ground. From Dana, Najib took me 
north along the Roman road by a Roman triumphal arch, 
the Bab el Hawa, finely situated at the entrance of a rocky 
valley. • We rode along this valley for a mile or two, passing a 
ruined church, and stmck up the hills to the west by a gorge that 
brought us out on to a wide plateau close to the deserted village 
of Ksejba.* We went on to the village of Babiska, through 
country which was scattered with flowers and with ^oups of 

• The ancient towns in the Jebel Barisha have been visited and 
described by the American Expedition. 



298 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

ruined houses and churches : the heart leapt at the sight of 
such lonely and unravished beauty. On these hilltops it Wcis 
difficult to say where stood BSkirha, the town I wished to 
visit, but near Babiska we found a couple of shepherd tents, 
and from one of the inhabitants inquired the way. The shep- 
herd was a phlegmatic man ; he said there was no road to 
Bakirha, and that the afternoon had grown too late for such an 
enterprise, moreover he himself was starting off in another 
direction with a basket of eggs and could not help us. I, how- 
ever, had not ridden so many miles in order to be defeated 
at the last, and with some bullying and a good deal of per- 
suasion we induced the shepherd to show us the way to the foot 
of the hill on which Bakirha stands. He walked with us for an 
hour or so, then pointed towards the summit of the Jebel 
Barisha and saying, " There is BSkirha," he left us abruptly 
and returned to his basket of eggs. 

High up on the mountain side we saw the ruins bathed in the 
afternoon sun, and having looked in vain for a path we pushed 
our horses straight in among the boulders and brakes of flowering 
thorn. But there is a limit to the endurance even of Syrian 
horses, and ours had almost reached it after a long day spent iu 
clambering over stones. We had still to get into camp. Heaven 
alone knew how far away ; yet I could not abandon the shining 
walls that were now so close to us upon the hill, and I told the 
reluctant Najib to wait below with the horses while I climbed 
up alone. The day was closing in, and I climbed in haste ; but 
for all my haste the scramble over those steep rocks, half-buried 
in flowers and warm with the level sun, is a memory that will 
not easily fade. In half an hour I stood at the entrance of 
the town, below a splendid basilica rich in varied beauty of de- 
coration and design. Beyond it the ruined streets, empty of 
all inhabitant^, lay along the mountain side, houses with carved 
balconies and deep-porched doorways, columned market-places, 
and the golden sunlight over all. But I was bent upon another 
pilgrimage. A broad and winding road led up above the town 
until it reached the boundary of the flowered slopes, and nothing 
except a short rocky face of hill lay between the open ground 
where the path ended and the summit of the range. The mountain 
was cleft this way and that by precipitous gorges, enclosing 



W^ - 



TOMB AT DANA 



• THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 301 

between their escarpments prospects of sunlit fertile plain, 
and at the head of the gorges on a narrow shelf of ground stood 
a small and exquisite temple. I sat down by the gate through 
whicli the worshippers had passed into the temple court. Below 
me lay the northern slopes of the Jebel Barisha.and broad 
fair valleys and the snow-clad ranks of the Giour Dagh veiled 



ki a warm haze. Temple and town and hillside were alike 
deserted save that far away upon a rocky spur a shepherd 
boy piped a wild sweet melody to his scattered flocks. The 
breath of the reed is the very voice of solitude ; shrill and 
clear and passionless it rose to the temple gate, borne on deep 
waves of mountain air that were perfumed with flowers and 
coloured with the rays of the low sun. Men had come and gone, 
life had surged up the flanks of the hills and retreated again, 
leaving the old gods to resume their sway over rock and 
flowering thorn, in peace and loneliness and beauty. 

So at the gate of the sanctuary I offered praise, and having 
given thanks went on my way rejoicing. 

Najib welcomed me back with expressions of relief. 

" By God ! " said he, " I have not smoked a single cigarette 



302 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN • 

since I lost sight of your Excellency, but all this hour I have 
said : ' Please God she will not meet with a robber among 
the rocks.' " 

Therewith, to make up for lost opportunity, he lighted 
the cigarette that his anxiety had not prevented him from 
rolling during my absence, and though I will not undertake 
to affirm that it was indeed the only one, the sentiment was 
gratifying. I thought at the time (but next day's march 
proved me to be wrong) that we rode down to the plain of 
Sermeda by the roughest track in the world. When we got to 
the foot of the hill we turned up a valley to the south, a narrow 
ribbon of cultivation winding between stony ranges. Presently 
it widened, and we passed a large modem village, where we 
received the welcome news that our camp had been seen ahead ; 
at a quarter past six we struggled into Mehes or Dehes, 
whichever it may have been, feeling that our horses would have 
been put to it if they had been asked to walk another mile. 
An enchanting camp was Mehes. It was not often that I 
could pitch tents far from all habitation. The muleteers 
pined for the sour curds and other luxuries of civilisation, and 
indeed I missed the curds too, but the charm of a solitary camp 
went far to console me. The night was still and clear, we were 
lodged in the ruined nave of a church, and we slept the sleep 
of the blessed after our long ride. 

There was one more ruin that I was determined to visit 
before I left the hills. It was the church of Kalb Lozeh, which 
from descriptions seemed to be (as indeed it is) the finest build- 
ing after Kal'at Sim'an in all North Syria. 1 sent the bag- 
gage animals round by the valleys, with strict, but useless, 
injunctions to Paris that he was not to dawdle, and set out 
with Mikhail and Najib to traverse on horseback two mountain 
ranges, the Jebel Barisha and the Jebel el 'Ala. It is best to 
do rock climbing on foot ; but if any one would know the full 
extent of the gymnastic powers of a horse, he should ride up 
the Jebel el 'Ala to Kalb Lozeh. I had thought myself tolerably 
well versed in the subject, but I found that the expedition 
widened my experience not a little. We rode straight up an 
intolerably stony hill to the west of Mehes, and so reached the 
summit of the Jebel Barisha. The ground here was much 



\ 



<i 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 305 

broken by rocks, but between them were tiny olive groves and 
vineyards and tiny, scattered cornfields. Every ledge and 
hollow was a garden of wild flowers; tall blue irises unfurled 
their slender buds under sweet-smelling thickets of bay, and the 
air was scented with the purple daphne. This paradise was 
inhabited by a surly peasant, the least obliging and the most 
taciturn of men. After much unsuccessful bargaining (the 
price he set on any service he might render us was preposterous, 
but we were in his hands and he obliged us to give way) he agreed 
to guide us to Kalb Lozeh, and conducted us forthwith down 
the Jebd BSrisha by a precipitous path cut out of the living rock. 
It was so steep and narrow that when we met a party of women 
coming up from the lower slopes with bundles of brushwood 
^brushwood ! it was flowering daphne and bay — ^we had great 
difficulty in edging past them. At the bottom of this break- 
neck descent there was a deep valley with a lake at one end of 
it, and in front of us rose the Jebel el 'Ala, to the best of my 
judgment a wall of rock, quite impossible for horses to dimb. 
The monosyllabic peasant who directed us — I am glad I do not 
remember his name — vindicated that our path lay up it, and 
Najib seeming to acquiesce, I followed with a sinking heart. 
It was indescribable. We jumped and tumbled over the rock 
faces and our animals jumped and tumbled after us, scramb- 
ling along the edge of little precipices, where, if they had fallen 
they must have broken every bone. Providence watched 
over us and we got up unhurt into a country as lovely as that 
which we had left on top of the Jebel BSLrisha. At the entrance 
of an olive grove our guide turned back, and in a few moments 
we reached Kalb Lozeh. 

Whether there was ever much of a settlement round the great 
church I do not know ; there are now but few remains of houses, 
and it stands almost alone. It stands too very nearly unrivalled 
among the monuments of Syrian art. The towered narthex, 
the wide bays of the nave, the apse adorned with engaged 
columns, the matchless beauty of the decoration and the jus- 
tice of proportion preserved in every part, are the features 
that first strike the beholder ; but as he gazes he becomes aware 
that this is not only the last word in the history of Syrian 
architecture, spoken at the end of many centuries of endeavour, 

u 



3C6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

but that it is also the beginning of a new chapter in the archi- 
tecture of the world. The fine and simple beauty of 
Romanesque was bom in North Syria. It is curious to con- 
sider to what developments the genius of these architects might 
have led if they had not been checked by the Arab invasion. 
Certain it is that we should have had an independent school 
of great builders, strongly influenced perhaps by classical 
tradition and yet more strongly by the East, but everywhere 
asserting an unmistakable personality as bold as it was 
imaginative and delicate. There is little consolation in the 
reflection that the creative vigour that is evident at Kalb 
Lozeh never had time to pass into decadence. 

I had heard or read that in the mountains near Kalb Lozeh 
were to be found a few Druze villages, inhabited by emigrants 
from the Lebanon, but as I had not yet come upon them I had 
almost forgotten their existence. Near the church stood half a 
dozen hovels, the inhabitants of which came out to watch me as I 
photographed. Almost unconsciously I was struck by some 
well-known look in the kohl-blackened eyes and certain pecu- 
liarities of manner that are difficult to specify but that com- 
bine to form an impression of easy and friendly familiarity 
with perhaps a touch of patronage in it. When the women 
joined the little crowd my eye was caught by the silver chains 
and buckles that they wore, which I remembered vaguely to 
have remarked elsewhere. As we were about to leave, an 
oldish man came forward and offered to walk with us for an 
hour, saying that the way down to Harim was difficult to find, 
and we had not walked fifty yards together before I realised 
the meaning of my subconscious recognition. 

" Masha'llah ! " said I, " you are Druzes.** 

The man looked round anxiously at Najib and Mikhail, 
following close on our heels, bent his head and walked on 
without speaking. 

" You need not fear," said L " The soldier and my servant 
are discreet men." 

He took heart at this and said : 

" There are few of us in the mountains, and wc dread the 
Mohauimadans and hide from them that we are Druzes, lest 
they should drive us out. We are not more than two hundred 
houses in all," 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



309 



" I have been hoping to find you," said I, " for I know the 
sheikhs in the Hauran, and they have shown me much kindness. 
Therefore I desire to salute all Druzes wherever I may meet 
with them," 

" Allah ! " said he. " Do you know the Turshan ? " 

" By God ! " said I. 

"Shibly and 
Yahya his brother ? " 

" Yahya I know, 
but Shibly is dead," 

" Dead ! " he ex- 
claimed. " Oh Mer- 
ciful 1 Shibly dead ! " 
And with that he 
drew from me all the 
news of the Moun- 
t a i n and listened 
with rapt attention 
to tales for which I 
had not thought to 
find a willing ear so 
far from Salkhad. 
Suddenly his ques- 
tions stopped and he 
swerved oft the path 
towards a vineyard in which a young man was pruning the 



" Oh my son ! " he cried. " Shibly ei Atrash is dead ! 
Lend me thy shoes, that I may walk with the lady towards 
I:Iarim, for mine are worn." 

The young man approached, kicking off his red leather 
sUppers as he came. 

" We belong to God ! " said he. " I saw Shibly but a year 
\go." And the news had to be repeated to him in detail 

We journeyed on along the stony mountain tops, brushing 
through purple daphne that grew in wonderful profusion, and 
talking as we went as though we had been old friends long 
parted. When we came to the lip of the Jebel el 'Ala we saw 
H&rim below us, and I insisted that my companion should 






310 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

spare himself the labour of walking further. He agreed, with 
great reluctance, to turn back, and stood pouring out blessings 
on me for full five minutes before he would bid me farewell, 
and then returned to us again that he might be sure we had 
understood the way. 

And next time you come into the Jebd el 'Ala," said he, 

you must bring your camp to Kalb Lozeh and stay at least a 
month, and we will give you all you need and show you all the 
ruins. And now may you go in peace and safety, please God ; 
and in peace and in health return next year.** 

" May God prolong yoiu: life," said I, " and give you peace ! *' 

So we separated, and my heart was warm with an affection 
for his people which it is never difficult to rekmdle. Cruel in 
battle they may be — the evidence against them is overwhelm- 
ing; some have pronounced them treacherous, others have 
found them grasping ; but when I meet a Druze I do not hesi- 
tate to greet a friend, nor shall I until my confidence has been 
proved to have been misplaced. 

Harim castle stands on a mound at the entrance of one of 
the few gorges that give access to the Jebel d *Ala. Beyond 
it lies the great Orontes plain that was a granary in old days 
to the dty of Antioch. Much of the northern part of the plain was 
under water, the swampy lake which the Syrians call El Bahra 
having been extended by the recent rains to its fullest limit. 
We turned south from Harim and rode along the foot of the 
slopes of the Jebel el 'Ala to Salkin, a memorable ride by reason 
of the exceeding beauty of the land through which we passed. 
I have seen no such abundant fertility in all Syria. Groves of 
olive and almond shared the fat ground with barley and oats ; 
tangled thickets of gorse and broom, daphne and blackberry, 
edged the road, and every sunny spot was blue with iris stylosa. 
Saikin itself lay in a wooded valley amid countless numbers of 
olive-trees that stretched almost to the Orontes, several miles 
av^ay. We dismounted before we reached the town in an open 
spot between olive-gardens. It was five o'clock, but Paris 
had not arrived, and we disposed ourselves comfortably imder 
the trees to wait for him. Our advent caused some exdte- 
ment among the people who weie sitting on the grass enjoying 
the evening calm ; before long one, who was evidently a person 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 311 

of consideration, strolled up to us, accompanied by a servant, 
and invited me to come and rest in his house. He was a portly 
man, though he had barely touched middle age, and his coun- 
tenance was pleasant ; I accepted his invitation, thinking I 
might as well see what Salkin had to offer. Opportunities 
of enlarging the circle of your acquaintance should always be 
grasped, especially in foreign parts. 



I soon found that I had fallen into the hands of the wealthiest 
inhabitant of the town. Muhammad 'Ali Agha is son to Rus- 
tum Agha, who is by birth a Circassian and was servant in the 
great Circassian family of Kakhya Zadeh of Hamadan — that 
is their Arabic name, the Persians call them Kat Khuda Zadeh. 
The Kakhya Zadehs migrated to Aleppo two centuries back ; 
by such transactions as are familiar to Circassians, they 
grew exceedingly rich and are now one of the most powerful 
firailies in Aleppo. Their servants shared in their prosperity, 
and Rustum Agha, being a careful man, laid by enough money 
to buy land at Salkin near his master's large estate in the 
Orontes valley. Fortune favoured him so well that the hand 
of a daughter of the Kakhya house was accorded to his son. 
I did not leam all these details at once, and was astonished while 
I sat in Muhammad 'Ali*s harem to observe the deference with 



^12 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

which he treated his wife, wondering why the sharp-featured, 
bright-eyed little lady who had borne him no sons should be 
addressed by her husband with such respect, for I did not then 
know that she was sister to Reshid Agha Kakhya Zadeh. Mu- 
hammad *Ali's only child, a girl of six years old, what though 
she were of so useless a sex, was evidently the apple of her father's 
eye. He talked to me long of her education and prospects, while 
I ate the superlatively good olives and cherry jam that his 
maid servants set before me. The Khanum was so gracious 
as to prepare the coffee with her own hands, and to express 
admiration of the battered felt hat that lay, partly concealed 
by its purple and silver kerchief, on the divan beside me. 

" Oh, the beautiful European hat ! " said she. "Why do 
you wear a mendil over it when it is so pretty ? *' 

And with that she stripped it of the silk scarf and camel's 
hair rope, and placing it in all its naked disreputableness on her 
daughter's black curls, she declared that it was the most 
becoming head-dress in the world. 

At six o'clock news was brought. that my baggage animals 
had arrived, but before I could be allowed to return to my tents 
Rustum Agha had to be visited. He was lying on a couch 
heaped with wadded silken coverlets in an upper chamber 
overlooking the beautiful rushing stream and the two great 
cypresses that add much to the picturesqueness of Salkin. 
ITiese trees stand like tall black sentinels before the gate of 
the house, which is the first and the largest in the winding 
village street. Rustum Agha was very old and very sick. 
His face lay like the face of a corpse upon the pale primrose 
silk of the bedclothes. He seemed to be gratified by my visit, 
though when he opened his lips to greet me he was seized with 
such an intolerable fit of coughing that his soul was almost 
shaken out of his body. As soon as he recovered he asked for 
the latest tidings of Russia and Japan, and I marvelled that 
he, who seemed so near his end, had the patience to ask any- 
thing of us, but whether we could see the lagging gamerer with 
the scythe hobbling up between the cypresses at the door. 

As I sat down to dinner in my tent two of Muhammad 'All's 
servants staggered into camp bearing a large jar of olives grown 
in the gardens of Salkin and preserved in their own oil. They 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 313 

brought too a request from their master that he might come 
and spend an hour with me, and I sent back a message praying 
that he would honour me. He appeared later, with one or 
two people in attendance to carry his hubble-bubble, and 
settled himself for a comfortable chat to the gurgling accom- 
paniment of the water pipe, a soothing and an amicable soimd 
conducive to conversation. He told me that Salkin was one of 
the many Seleucias, and that it had been founded by Seleucus I. 



himself as a summer resort for the iilhabitants of Antioch. 
The spot on which I was camped, said he, and the graveyard 
beyond it, formed the site of the Seleucid town, " and when- 
ever we dig a grave we turn up carved stones and sometimes 
writing." It seems not unnatural that the fertile foothills 
should have been selected by the people of Antioch for their 
country houses, but I have no further evidence to support the 
statement. He said also that his brother-in-law, Reshid Agha, 
was staying with him, and he expressed a hope that I would 
call on him before I left next day. 

If Reshid Agha Kakhya Zadeh is th( chief magnate of the 
district he is also the chief villain. I found him sitting in 
the early morning under the cypresses by the foaming stream, 
and a more evil face in a sweeter setting and lighted by a fairer 
sun it would have been hard to picture. He was a tall man with 
an overbearing manner ; his narrow forehead sheltered a world of 



314 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

vicious thoughts, his eyes squinted horribly, his thick sensuous 
Ups spluttered as they enunciated the vain boastings and the 
harsh commands that formed the staple of his conversation. 
He was wrapped in a pale silk robe, and he smoked a hubble- 
bubble with a jewelled mouthpiece. By his side lay a bunch 
of Spring flowers, which he lifted and smelt at as he talked, 
finally offering the best of them to me. It is one of the privi- 
leges of the irresponsible traveller that he is not called upon to 
eschew the company of rogues, and when I found that my friend 
Muhammad 'Ali was about to accompany Reshid Agha to 
the latter's house at Alani and that this lay upon my path, I 
agreed to their suggestion that we should start together. The 
animals were brought out, we mounted under the cypresses 
and trotted off through olive-groves towards the Orontes 
valley. Reshid Agha rode a splendid Arab mare ; her black 
livery shone with the grooming she had received, she was lightly 
bitted, her headstall was a silver chain, her bridle was studded 
with silver ornaments, her every movement was a pleasure 
to behold. Her master appealed repeatedly to Muhammad 
'Ali, who jogged along by his side on a fine mule, for admiration 
of his mount, and when the latter had replied obsequiously 
with the required praise, his words were taken up and rein- 
forced by an old fat man who rode with us upon a lean pony. 
He was jester and flatterer in ordinary to the Kakhya Zadeh, 
and, if his coimtenance spoke truly, panderer to his employer's 
vices and conniver at his crimes — among such strange company 
I had fallen that April morning. Hajj Najib trotted along 
contentedly enough behind us; but Mikhail, whose sense of 
the proprieties was strong, could barely conceal his disapproval, 
and answered in monosyllables when the jester or Reshid Agha 
addressed him, though he unbent to Muhammad 'Ali, whom he 
judged (and rightly) to be of another clay. We rode for an 
hour over soft springy ground, Reshid pointing out the beauties 
of his property as we went. 

*' All these olive-gardens are mme," said he, " by God and the 
Prophet of God ! there are no such olives in the land. Every 
year I come out from Aleppo and see to the ohve harvest witb 
my own eyes lest the loiaves who work for me should cheat me, 
God curse them ! And therefore I have built myself a house 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 315 

at Alani— God knows a man shoiild make himself comfortable 
and live decently. But you shall see it, for you must eat with 
me ; my table is spread for all comers. And around the house 
I have planted fields of mulberry-trees ; ten thousand stripling 
trees I have set in the last five years. I shall raise silkworks. 



please God ! in great number. Oh Yusef ! show her the boxes 
of eggs that came from the land of France." 

The jester drew out of his breast a little cardboard box 
marked with the brand of a French firm ; but before I could 
express my respect for the Agha's industry his attention had 
been distracted by some peasants who were pruning the olives 
not to his liking, and he spurred his mare up to the trees and 
poured out volleys of oaths and execrations upon the unfor- 
tunate men, after which he returned to my side and resumed the 
tale of his own prowess. 

The house was large and new, and furnished throughout with 
plush and gilt-framed mirrors. Nothing would satisfy the 
Agha but that I should see and admire every comer, and the 
jpster gave me the lead in praise and congratulation. From him 
I gathered that I was chieJly called upon to exalt the merits oi 



3i6 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the iron stoves that were prominent in each of the rooms — ^no 
doubt they added to the comfort if not to the picturesqueness 
of the establishment. This over we sat down on a divan to 
wait till lunch was ready. The Agha employed the time in 
relating to me with an over-emphasised indignation his 
struggles against the corrupt and oppressive government under 
which he lived, but he omitted to mention that what he suffered 
at the hands of those above him he passed on with interest to 
those below. 

" By God ! " he spluttered, " you have seen how I labour 
among my olive-trees, how I plant mulberries and send for the 
silkworm eggs from afar, that I may make a new trade at Alani. 
Is the VSli grateful ? No, by the Prophet ! He sends his 
men and they say : ' Stop ! till we see how much more we 
can tax you ! ' And when I would have set up a mill by the 
river for the grinding of my com, they said : * Stop ! it is not 
lawful.' Then they sent for me in the middle of the harvest, 
and I rode hastily to Aleppo, and day by day and week by week 
they kept me waiting, and forbade me to leave the dty. And 
by God ! " shouted the Agha, thumping on a little inlaid table 
with his fist, ** I baffled them ! I went to the Kadi, and said : 
* From whom is the order ? ' He said : * From the Vali.' 
Then I went to the Vali and said : * From whom is the order ? ' 
And he answered : * I know not ; perchance from the KSdi.' 
And I bade them put it in writing, but they dared not, and so 
they let me go." 

In the middle of these tales three visitors were announced. 
They took a deferential seat on the opposite divan, and ex- 
pended themselves in salutations and compliments. The Agha 
received them as an emperor might receive his subjects, and 
one of them presently seized the opportunity of saying to me in 
a stage whisper audible to all : 

" You have seen what manner of man is the Agha ? He 
is like a king in this country." Whereat the Agha grew yet 
more regally gracious. 

We sat down at last to a board loaded with every variety 
of Syrian delicacy, and few cuisines can beat the Syrian at 
its best. The Agha talked and ate with equal eagerness, and 
pressed one dish after another upon his guests. When tlie 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 317 

feast was in full swing a servant came to him and said that 
there was a certain fellah who wished to speak with him. 

" Let him come ! " said the Agha indifferently A ragged 
peasant figure appeared in the doorway and gazed with eyes 
half sullen, half frightened at the company, and the profusion 
of delicate meats. 

" Peace be upon you, oh Agha ! " he began. 

But as soon as he saw the suppliant the Agha started to 
his feet in a very fury of passion. His face became purple, 
his squinting eyes started from his head, and he thumped 
the table with his clenched fist while he cried : 

" Begone ! and may God curse you and your offspring, 
and destroy your father's house ! Begone, I tell you, and 
bring the money, or I will send you to prison with your wife 
and your family, and you shall starve there till you die." 

" Oh Agha ! " said the man, with a certain dignity that 
faced the other's rage, " a little time. Grant me a little time." 

** Not a day ! not an hour ! " yelled the Agha. " Away ! 
go ! and to-night you shall bring me the money." 

The peasant vanished from the doorway without another 
word, the Agha sat down, and continued his interrupted 
conversation and his interrupted meal ; the other guests 
ate on as if nothing had happened, but I felt a Httle ashamed 
of my place at Reshid's right hand, and I was not sorry to 
bid him farewell. 

The Agha sent us down to the Orontes and caused us to be 
conveyed across the stream in his own ferry-boat. When we 
reached the other side Mikh§lil ostentatiously took a crust 
from his pocket and began to eat it. 

Have you not eaten at Alani ? " said I. 

I do not eat with such as he," replied Mikhail stiffly. 

At this Najib, whom no such scruple had withheld from 
enjoying the unwonted luxury of an ample meal, nodded his 
head and said : 

" The Agha is an evil man, may God reward him according 
to his deeds ! He squeezes their last metalik from the poor, 
he seizes their land, and turns them out of their houses to 
starve." 

" And worse than that/' said Mikhail darkly. 



4( 



3i8 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

" By God ! " said Najib. " Every man who has a fair wife 
or a fair daughter stands in fear of him, for he will never rest 
until the woman is in his hands. By God and Muhammad the 
Prophet of God 1 many a man has he killed that he might take 
his wife into his own harem, and no one is hated more than he." 

" Cannot the law prevent him ? " said I. 



" Who shall prevent him ? " said NajIb. " He is rich — 
may God destroy his dwelling ! " 

" Oh Mikhail ! " said I as we pidced our way across the muddy 
helds. " I have travelled much in your country and I have 
seen and known many people, and seldom have I met a pool 
man whom I would not choose for a friend nor a rich man whom 
I would not shun. Now how is this ? Does wealth change 
the very heart in Syria ? For, look you, in ray country not all 
the powerful are virtuous, but neither are they all rogues. And 
you and the Druze of Kalb Lozeh and Musa the Kurd, would 
you too, if you had meajis, become like Reshtd Agha ? " 

" Oh lady," said Mikhail, " the heart is the same, but in 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 319 

your country the government is just and strong and every 
one of the English must obey it, even the rich ; whereas with us 
there is no justice, but the big man eats the little, and the 
little man eats the less, and the government eats all alike. 
And we all suffer after our kind and cry out to God to help us 
since we cannot help ourselves. But at least I did not eat the 



bread of Reshid Agha," concluded Mikhail rather senten- 
tiously ; and at this Najib and I hung our heads. 
'Then followed five hours of the worst travelling. It may 
have been a judgment upon Najib and me for sitting at the 
table of the wicked, but, like most of the judgments of Provi- 
dence, it fell impartially on the just and the unjust, for Mikhail 
endured as much as we. All that we had suffered the day 
before from the rocks we now suffered at the opposite end of 
the scale from the mud. The torture was a thousand times 
more acute. For five hours we crossed hills of earth on which 
there was never a stone, but the sticky slime of the slopes alter- 
nated with deep sloughs, where our horses sank up to their 



320 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

girths, and when at last we emerged from this morass into the 
Orontes valley man and beast were exhausted. The rising 
ground, which we had left, now rose into rocky ridges and peaks, 
the broad valley lay on our right hand, half full of flood water, 
and beyond it stood a splendid range of mountains. It was 
not long before we cai^ht sight of the Byzantine towers 



and walls crowning the ridges to the left, and between hedges 
of flowering bay we stumbled along the broken pavement 
of the Roman road that led to Antioch. The road was 
furthei occupied by a tributaiy of the Orontes, which flowed 
merrily over the pavement. It was with some excitement 
that I gazed on the city of Antioch, which was for so many 
centuries a cradle of the arts and the seat of one of the 
most gorgeous civilisations that the world has known. Modem 
Antioch is like the pantaloon whose clothes are far too wide for 
his lean shanks ; the castle walls go climbing over rock and 
hill, enclosing an area from which the town has shrunk away. 
But it is still one of the loveliest of places, with its great ragged 
hill behind it, crowned with walls, and its clustered red roofs 
stretching down to the wide and fertile valley of the Orontes. 
Earthquakes and the changing floods of the stream have over- 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 321 

turned and covered with silt the palaces of the Greek and of 
the Roman city, yet as I stood at sunset on the sloping sward 
of the Nosairiyyeh graveyard below Mount Silpius, where my 
camp was pitched, and saw the red roofs under a crescent 
moon, I recognised that beauty is the inalienable heritage 
of Antioch. 



CHAPTER XIV 

A FURTHER acquaintance with Antioch did not destroy the 

impressions of the first evening. The more I wandered tfaroxigh 

the narrow paved streets the more delightful did they appeax. 

Except the main thoroughfare, which is the bazaar, they wiere 

almost empty ; my footsteps on the cobble-stones broke throngfa 

years of silence. The shallow gables covered with red tiles 

gave a charming and very distinctive note to the whole city, 

and shuttered balconies jutted out from house to house. Of the 

past there is scarcely a vestige. Two fine sarcophagi, adorned 

with putti and garlands and with the familiar and, I fancy, 

typically Asiatic motive of lions devouring bulls, stand in the 

5^raya, and one similar to these, but less elaborate, by the 

edge of the Daphne road. I saw, too, a fragment of a classical 

entablature in the courtyard of a Turkish house, and a scrap of 

wall in the main street that may certainly be dated earlier than 

the Mohammadan invasion — ^its courses of alternate brick and 

stone resembled the work on the Acropohs. For the rest the 

Antir)rh of Seleucus Nicator is a city of the imagination only. 

The island on which it was built has disappeared owing to the 

changing of the river bed, but tradition places it above tbe 

mcxlern town. The banks of the Orontes must have been 

Jined with splendid villas ; I was told that the foundations of 

them were brought to light whenever a man dug deep enough 

through the silt, and that small objects of value, such as coins 

and bronzes, were often unearthed. Many such were brought 

to me for sale, but I judged them to be forgeries of an imskiUul 

kind, and I ^as confirmed in my opinion by a Turkish pasha 

Rifa't Agha, who has occupied his leisure in making a collection 

of antiquities. He possesses a fine series of Seleucid coins f li*. 

earlier nearly as good as the best Sidhan, the later n^rl^ 

as Dae as the worst Byzantine, and a few bronze lamps one f 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 323 

which, in the shape of a curly-haired Eros head, is a beautiful 
example of Roman work. The Agha presented me with a 



TUE CORN MARKET, 



small head, which I take to have been a copy of the head of 
Antioch with the high crown, and though it was but roughly 
worked, it possessed some distinction borrowed from a great 
original- 



324 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

Forty years ago the walls and towers of the Acropolis were 
still almost perfect ; they are now almost destroyed. The 
inhabitants of Antioch declare that the city is rocked to its 
foundations every half-century, and they are in instant expec- 
tation of another upheaval, the last having occurred in 1862 ; 
but it is prosperity not earthquake that has wrought the 
havoc in the fortress. The town is admirably situated in its 
rich valley, and connected with the port of Alexandretta by a 
fairly good road ; it might easily become a great commercial 
centre, and even under Turkish rule it has grown considerably 
in the past fifty years, and grown at the expense of the Acro- 
polis. To spare himself the trouble of quarrying, the Oriental 
will be deterred by no difficulty, and in spite of the labour of 
transporting the dressed stones of the fortress to the foot of the 
exceedingly steep hill on which it stands, all the modern houses 
have been built out of materials taken from it. The work 
of destruction continues ; the stone facing is quickly disappear- 
ing from the walls, leaving only a core of a rubble and mortar 
which succumbs in a short time to the aQtion of the weather. I 
made the whole circuit of the fortress one morning, and it took 
me three hours. To the west of the summit of Mount Silpius a 
rocky cleft seamed the hillside. It was full of rock-cut tombs, 
and just above my camp an ancient aqueduct spanned it. On the 
left hand of the cleft the line of wall dropped by precipitous rocks 
to the valley. Where large fragments remained it was evident 
that the stone facing had alternated with bands of brick, and that 
sometimes the stone itself had been varied by courses of smaller 
and larger blocks. The fortifications embraced a wide area, 
the upper part leading by gentle slopes, covered with brush- 
wood and ruined foundations, to the top of the hill. In the west 
wall there was a narrow massive stone door, with a lintel of 
jointed blocks and a relieving arch above it. The south wall 
was broken by towers ; the main citadel was at the south- 
east comer. From here the walls dropped down again steeply 
to the city and passed some distance to the east of it. They 
can be traced, I believe, to the Orontes. I did not follow their 
course, but climbed down from the citadel by a stony path into a 
deep gorge that cuts through the eastern end of the hill. The 
entrance to this gorge is guarded by a strong wall of brick and 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 325 

stone, which is called the Gate of Iron, and beyond it the forti- 
fications climb the opposite side of the ravine and are con- 
tinued along the hill top. I do not know how far they extend ; 
the ground was so rough and so much overgrown with bushes 
that I lost heart and turned back. There was a profusion of 
flowers among the rocks, marigold, asphodel, cyclamen and 
iris, 

Bevond the gorge of the Iron Gate, on the liill-side facing 



the Orontes, there is a cave which tradition calls the cave of 
St. Peter. The Greek communion has erected a little chapel at 
its mouth. Yet further along the hill is a still more curious 
relic of ancient Antioch, the head of a Sphinx carved in relief 
upon a rock some 20 ft. high. Folded about her brow she wears 
a drapery that falls on either side of her face and ends where 
the throat touches the bare breast. Her featureless counte- 
nance is turned slightly up the valley, as though she watched for 
one that shall yet come out of the East. If she could speak she 
might tell us of great kings and gorgeous pageants, of battle and 
of siege, for she has seen them all from her rock on the hill side. 
She still remembers that the Greeks she knew marched up from 
Babylonia, and since even the Romans did not teach her that 
the living world lies westward, I could not hope to enUgh'.en 



326 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

her, and so left her watching for some new thing out of the 

East. 

There was another pilgrimage to be made from Antioch : it 
was to Daphne, the famous shrine that marked the spot where 
the nymph baffled the desire of the god, the House of the Waters 
it is called in Arabic. 
It lies to the west of 
the town, about an 
hour's ride along the 
foot of the hills, and 
in the Spring a more 
enchanting ride could 
not be found. The 
path led throligh an 
exquisite boscage oi 
budding green, set 
thicldywith flowering 
hawthorn and with 
the strange purple of 
the Judas tree ; then 
it crossed a low spur 
and descended into a 
steep valley through 
which a stream 
tumbled towards the 
Orontes. 

No trace remains 
of the temples that 
adorned this fairest 
of all sanctuaries. Earthquakes and the mountain torrents hive 
swept them down the ravine. But the beauty of the site has not 
duninished since the days when the citizens of the most luxu- 
rious capital m the East dallied there with the girls who served 
the god. The torrent does not burst noisily from the mountain 
side ; it is born in a deep still pool that lies, swathed in a robe 
of maidenhair fern, in thickets " annihilating all that's made 
to a green thought in a green shade." From the pool issues a 
translucent river, unbroken of surface, narrow and profound ; 
it runs into swirls and eddies and then into foaming cataracts 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 327 

and waterfalls that toss their white spray into the branches of 
mulberry and plane. Under the trees stand eleven water-mills ; 
the ragged millers are the only inhabitants of Apollo's shrine. 
They brought us walnuts to eat by the edge of the stream, and 
small antique gems that had dropped from the ornaments of 
those who sought pleasures less innocent perhaps than ours by 
the banks of that same torrent. 

It is impossible to travel in North Syria without acquiring a 



keen interest in the Seleucid kings, backed by a profound 
respect for their achievements in politics and in the arts; 
I was determined therefore to visit before I pushed north the 
site of Seleucia Pieria, the port of Antioch and the burial-place 
of Seleucus Nicator. Inland capital and seaport sprang into 
being at the same moment, and were both part of one great 
conception that turned the lower reaches of the Orontes into a 
rich and populous market — in those days kings could create 
wor'-d-famous cities with a wave of the sceptre, and the Seleucids 
were not backward in following the example Alexander had set 
them. Like Apamea, Seleucia has shrunk to the size of a 
hamlet, or perhaps it would be truer to say that it has split up 
into several hamlets covered by the name of Sweidiyyeh. (The 



328 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

nomenclature is confusing, as each group of farms or huts has a 
separate title.) The spacing of the population at the mouth of 
the Orontes is due to the occupation in which the inhabitants 
of the villages are engaged. They are raisers of silkworms, an 
industry that requires during about a month in the Spring 
such continuous attention that every man must live in the 
centre of his mulberry-groves, and is consequently separated by 
the extent of them from his neighbours. After three hours' ride 
through a delicious country of myrtle thickets and mulberry 
gardens we reached Sweidiyyeh, a military post and the most 
important of the scattered villages. Here for the first and only 
time on my journey I was stopped by an officer, the worse for 
'arak, who demanded my passport. Now passport I had none ; 
I had lost it in the Jebel Zawiyyeh when I lost my coat, and it 
is a proof of how Uttle bound by red tape the Turkish official 
can show himself to be that I travelled half the length of the Otto- 
man Empire without a paper to my name. On this occasion the 
zaptieh who was with me demonstrated with some heat that 
he would not have been permitted to accompany me if I had 
not been a respectable and accredited person, and after a short 
wrangle we were allowed to pursue our way. The reason of 
this meticulous exactitude was soon made clear : the villages 
on the coast contain large colonies of Armenians ; they are 
surrounded by military stations, to prevent the inhabitants from 
escaping either inland to other parts of the empire or by sea 
to Cyprus, and the comings and goings of strangers are care- 
fully watched. One of the objects that the traveller should ever 
set before himself is to avoid being drawn into the meshes of the 
Armenian question. It was the tacit conviction of the learned 
during the Middle Ages that no such thing as an insoluble 
question existed. There might be matters that presented 
serious difficulties, but if you could lay them before the right 
man — ^some Arab in Spain, for instance, omniscient by reason 
of studies into the details of which it was better not to inquire 
— ^he would give you a conclusive answer. The real trouble 
was only to find your man. We, however, have fallen from 
that faith. We have proved by experience that there are, alas ! 
many problems insoluble to the human intelligence, and of that 
number the Turkish empire owns a considerable proportion. 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 329 

The Armenian question is one of them, and the Macedonian 
question is another. In those directions madness lies. 

It was with the determination not to waver in a decision that 
had contributed, largely, I make no doubt, to happy and pros- 
perous joumeyings, that I rode down to ChauKk, the port of 
ancient Seleucia. I found my resolve the less diflicult to observe 
because the Armenians talked little but Armenian and Turkish, 
at any rate the few words of Arabic that some of them pos- 
sessed were not sufficient to enable them to enter into a de- 
tailed account of their wrongs. He who served me that after- 
noon as a guide was a man of so cheerful a disposition that he 
would certainly have selected by preference a different topic. 
His name was Ibrahim, he was bright-eyed and intelligent, and 
his cheerfulness was deserving of praise, since his yearly income 
amounted to no more than 400 piastres, xmder £2 of English 
money. From this he proposed to save enough to bribe the 
Turkish officials at the port that they might wink at his escape 
in an open boat to Cyprus : " for," said he, " there is no industry 
here but the silkworms, and they give me work for two months 
in the year, and for the other ten I have nothing to do and no 
way of earning money." He also informed me that the 
Nosairis who inhabited the adjoining villages were unpleasant 
neighbours. 

" There is feud between you ? " said I. 

" Ey wallah ! " said he with emphatic assent, and related in 
illustration the long story of a recent conflict which, as far as 
it was comprehensible, seemed to have been due entirely to 
the aggressions j)f the Armenians. 

" But you began the stealing," said I when he had concluded. 

" Yes," said he. " The Nosairis are dogs." And he added 
with a smile : " I was imprisoned in Aleppo for two years 
afterwards." 

" By God ! you deserved it," said I. 

" Yes," said he, as cheerfully as ever. 

And this, I rejoice to say, was all that Ibrahim contributed 
to the store of evidence on the Armenian question. 

The Bay of Seleucia is not unUke the Bay of Naples and 
scarcely less beautiful. A precipitous ridge of the hills, honey- 
combed with rock-hewn tombs and chambers, forms a back- 



330 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

ground to the mulberry-gardens, and, sweeping round, encloses 
the bay to the north. Below it lie the walls and water-gates 
of the port, silted up with earth and separated from the sea by a 
sandy beach. The Orontes flows through sand and silt farther 
to the south, and the view is closed by a steep range of hills 
culminating at the southern point in the lovely peak of Mount 
Cassius, which takes the place of Vesuvius in the landscape. I 
pitched my camp near the northern barrier in a little cove 
divided from the rest of the bay by a low spur which ran out 
into a ruin-covered headland that commanded the whole sweep 
of the coast, and I pleased myself with the fancy that it was 
on this point that the temple and tomb of Seleucus Nicator had 
stood, though I do not know whether its exact stuation has ever 
been determined. Below it on the beach lay an isolated rock 
in which a columned hall had been excavated. This hall was 
fragrant of the sea and fresh with the salt winds that blew 
through it : a very temple of nymphs and tritons. Ibrahim 
took me up and down the face of the precipitous cliffs by 
little paths and by an old chariot-road that led to the city 
on the summit of the plateau. He said that to walk round the 
enclosing weJI of the upper city took six hours, but it was 
too hot to put his statement to the test. We cUmbed into an 
immense number of the artificial caves, in many of which there 
were no loculi. They may have been intended for dwellings 
or storehouses rather than for tombs. At this time of the year 
they were all occupied by the silkworm breeders, who were now 
at their busiest moment, the larvae having just issued from the 
egg. The entrance of each cave was blocked by a screen of 
green boughs to keep out the sun, and the afternoon light 
filtered pleasantly through the budding leaves. At the southern 
end of the cliff there was a large necropolis, consisting of small 
caves set round with loculi, and of rock-hewn sarcophagi 
decorated, when they were decorated at all, with the garland 
motive that adorns the sarcophagi at Antioch. The most 
important group of tombs was at the northern end of the cliff. 
The entrance to it was by a pillared portico that led into a 
double cave. The larger chamber contained some thirty to forty 
loculi and a couple of canopied tombs, the canopies cut out of 
the living rock; the smaller held about half the number of 



n 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 333 

loculi, the roof of it was supported by pillars and pilasters, and I 
noticed above the tombs a roughly cut design consisting of a 
scroll of ivy-shaped and of indented leaves. 

The builders of Seleucia seem to have been much pre-occu- 
pied with the distribution of the water-supply. Ibrahim showed 
me along the face of the cliff a channel some 2 ft. wide and 5 ft. 
high, which was cut 3 or 4 ft. behind the surface of the rock, 
and carried water from one end of the city to the other. We 
traced its course by occasional air-holes or breaches in the 
outer welU of rock. The most difficult problem must have 
been the management of the torrent that flowed down a gorge 
to the north of the town. A great gallery had been hewn 
through the spur to the south of my camp to conduct the water 
to the sea and prevent it from swamping the houses at the foot 
of the cliff. The local name for this gallery is the Gariz. It 
began at the mouth of a narrow ravine and was tunnelled 
through a mass of rock for several hundred yards, after which it 
continued as a deep cutting open to the air till it reached the 
end of the spur. At the entrance of the timnel there was an 
inscription in clear-cut letters, " Divus Vespasianus " it began, 
but the rest was buried in the rocky ground. There were 
several others along the further course of the Gariz, all of 
them in Latin : I imagine that the work was not Seleucid, but 
Roman. 

To one more spectacle Ibrahim tempted me. He declared 
that if I would follow him through the mulberry-gardens below 
the cliff he would show me " a person made of stone." My 
curioisty was somewhat jaded by the heat and the long walk, 
but I toiled back wearily over stones and other obstacles to find 
a god, bearded and robed, sitting under the mulberry trees. 
He was not a very magnificent god ; his attitude was stiff, his 
robe roughly fashioned, and the top of his head was gone, but 
the low sun gilded his marble shoulder and the mulberry boughs 
whispered his ancient titles. We sat down beside him, and 
Ibrahim remarked : 

" There is another buried in this field, a woman, but she 
is deep deep under the earth." 

" Have you seen her ? " said I. 

" Yes," said he. " The owner of the field buried her, for he 



334 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

thought she might bring him ill luck. Perhaps if you gave 
hira money he might dig her up." 

I did not rise to the suggestion ; she was probably better 
left to the imagination. 

Close to the statue I saw a long moulded cornice which was 
apparently in situ, though the wall it crowned was buried 
in a corn-field ; so thickly does the earth cover the ruins of Seleu- 
. cia. Some day there will be much 
to disclose here, but excavation will 
be exceedingly costly owing to the 
deep silt and to the demands of the 
proprietors of mulberry grove and 
cornfield. The site of the town is 
enormous, and will require years of ■ 
digging if it is to be properly ex- 
plored. 

Near my tents a sluggish stream 
flowed through clumps of yellow iris 
and formed a pool in the sand. It 
provided water for our animals and 
for the flocks of goats that Armenian 
shepherd boys herded morning and 
evening along the margin of the sea. 
'hulbhrrv-garden The spot was so attractive and the 

weather so delightful that I spent an 
idle day there, the first really idle day since I had left 
Jerusalem, and as I could not hope to examine Seleucia 
exhaustively, I resolved to see no more of it than was visible 
from my tent door. This excellent decision gave me twenty- 
tour hours, to which I look back with the keenest satisfaction, 
though there is nothing to be recorded of them except that I 
was not to escape so lightly from Armenian difficulties as I 
had hoped. . I received in the morning a long visit from a woman 
who had walked down from Kabuseh, a village at the top of 
the gorge above the Gariz. She spoke English, a tongue she 
had acquired at the missionary schools of 'Aintab, her home 
in the Kurdish mountains. Her name was Kymet. She had 
left 'Aintab upon her marriage, a step she had never ceased to 
regret, for though her husband was a good man and an honest, 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 335 

he was so poor that she did not see how she was to bring up her 
two children. Besides, said she, the people round Kabuseh, 
Nosairis and Armenians alike, were all robbers, and she begged 
me to help her to escape to Cyprus. She told me a curious 
piece of family history, which showed how painful the position 
of the sect must be in the heart of a Mohammadan country, if 
it cannot be cited as an instance of official oppression. Her 
father had turned Muslim when she was a child, chiefly be- 
cause he wished to take a second wife. Kymet's mother had 
left him and supported her children as best she might, rather 
than submit to the indignity that he had thrust upon her, and 
the bitter quarrel had darkened, said Kymet, all her own youth. 
She sent her husband down next morning with a hen and a 
copy of verses written by herself in English. I paid for the 
hen, but the verses were beyond price. They ran thus : 

Welcome, welcome, my dearest dear, we are happy by your coming I 

For your coming welcome I Your arrival welcome ! 
Let us sing joyfully, jo3rfully, 
Joyfully, my boys, jojrfullyl 
The sun shines now with moon clearly, sweet light so bright, my 
dear boys , 
For your reaching welcome I By her smiling welcome I 
The trees send us, my dear boys, with happiness the birds rejoice; 
Its nice smelling welcome 1 In their singing welcome 1 

I remain. 

Yours truly, 

George Abraham. 

I hasten to add, lest the poem should be considered com- 
promising, that its author was not George Abraham, who as 
I found in the negotiations over the hen had no word of English ; 
Kymet had merely used her husband's name as forming a more 
impressive signature than her own. Moreover the boys she 
alludes to were a rhetorical figure. I can offer no suggestion as to 
what it was that the trees sent us ; the text appears to be corrupt 
at this point. Perhaps " us " should be taken as the accusative. 

It was with real regret that I left Seleucia. Before dawn, 
when I went down to the sea to bathe, deUcate bands of cloud 
were lying along the face of the hills, and as I swam out into 
the warm still water the first ray of the sun stnick the snowy 
peak of Mount Cassius that closed so enchantingly the curve of 



336 THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 

the bay. We journeyed back to Antioch as we had come, and 
pitched tents outside the city by the high road. Two days 
later we set off at 6.30 for a long ride into Alexandretta. The 
road was abominable for the first few miles, broken by deep 
gulfs of mud, with here and there a scrap of pavement that 
afforded little better going than the mud itself. After three 
hours we reached the village of Karamurt, and three quarters 
of an hour further we left the road and struck straight up the 
hills by a ruined khan that showed traces of fine Arab work. 
The path led up and down steep banks of earth between thickets 
of flowering shrubs, gorse and Judas trees, and an undergrowth 
of cistus. We saw to the left the picturesque castle of Baghras, 
the ancient Pagrae.. crowning a pointed hill : I do not believe 
that the complex of mountains north of Antioch has ever been 
explored systematically, and it may yet yield fragments of 
Seleucid or Roman fortifications that guarded the approach 
to the city. Presently we hit upon the old paved road that 
follows a steeper course than the present carriage road ; it led 
us at one o'clock (we had stopped for three quarters of an hour 
to lunch under the shady bank of a stream) to the summit of 
the Pass of Bailan, where we joined the main road from Aleppo 
to Alexandretta. There was no trace of fortification, as far as 
I observed, at the Syrian Gates where Alexander turned and 
marched back to the Plain of Issus to meet Darius, but the 
pass is very narrow and must have been easy to defend against 
northern invaders. It is the only pass practicable for an army 
through the rugged Mount Amanus. The village of Bailan 
lay an hour further in a beautiful situation on the northern 
side of the mountains looking over the Bay of Alexandretta 
to the bold Cilician coast and the white chain of Taurus. From 
Bailan it is about four hours' ride to Alexandretta. 

As we jogged down towards the shining sea by green and 
flowery slopes that were the last of Syria, MikhaQ and I fell 
into conversation. We reviewed, as fellow travellers will, the 
incidents of the way, and remembered the adventures that had 
befallen us by flood and field, and at the end I said : 

" Oh Mikhail, this is a pleasant world, though some have 
spoken ill of it, and for the most part the children of Adam 
are good not evil." 



LOWER COURSE OF THE GARlZ 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 339 

" It is as God wills," said Mikhail. 

" Without doubt," said I. " But consider, now, those whom 
we have met upon our journey, and think how all were glad to 
help US, and how well they used us. At the outset there was 
Najib F5ris, who started us upon our way, and Namriid and 
G:'.hlan— " 

'■ USsha'llah I " interrupted Mikhail. " Gablan was an 



SARCOPHAGUS IN THE SEKA 

excellent man. Never have I seen an Arab so little grasping, 
for he would scarcely eat of the food that I prepared for him." 

" And Sheikh Muhammad en Nassar," I pursued, " and his 
nephew Faiz, and the KSimakam of Kal'at el Husn, who lodged 
us for two nights and fed us all, and the Kaimakara of Dre- 
kish, who made a great reception for us, and the zaptieh Mah- 

mud " (Mikhail gave a grunt here, for he had been at 

daggers drawn with Mahmiid.) "And Sheikh Yunis," I went 
on hastily, " and Musa the Kurd, who was the best of all." 

" He was an honest man," observed Mikhail, " and served 
your Excellency well." ^ 

" And even Reshid Agha," I continued, " who was a rogue, 
treated us with hospitality." 



34^ 



THE DESERT AND THE SOWN 



" Listen, oh lady," said Mikhail, " and I will make it clear 
to you. Men are short of vision, and they see but that for 
which they look. Some look for evil and they find evil ; some 
look for good and it is good that they find, and moreover some 
are fortunate and these find always what they want. Praise 
be to God ! to that number you belong. And, please God ! you 
shall journey in peace and return in safety to your own land, 
and there you shall meet his Excellency your father, and your 
mother and all your brothers and sisters in health and in happi- 
ness, and all your relations and friends," added Mikhail com- 
prehensively, " and again many times shall you travel in 
Syria with peace and safety and prosperity, please God ! " 

'' Please God ! " said I. 



HuwW- 



mm 

■ o 








\A 



m 



* INDEX 



Abadeh tribe, the, 23 
Abana River, the, 152 
'Abdul 'Aziz ibn er Rashld. 146 

Hamed Pasha Druby, 189, 
194 

Hamid Rafi 'a Zftdeh, 201- 

219. 339 
Kadir, the great Algerian, 

145-46 
Kfldir el Azam, 224-27, 237 
Mejid, Kurdish zaptieh, 210- 

II 
Wahhftb Beg, 182 
Abdullah Pasha, the Amir, 145-49 
'Abd ur RahmSn Pasha, 239 
Abraham, George, 335 
Abrash River, the, 210 
Abu Kbesh, castle of, 218 
Zreik, village of, 10 1 
'1 Fida, sarcophagus of, 230 
Acropolis, Athens, 167 ; Antioch, 

322, 324-25 
Adana, 271 
Aden, 265 
* Ad wan tribes, 16 
Afrin, valley of the, 288 
Agha, Muhammad 'All, 311-14 
Reshid, 339 

Rifa't, collection of, 322-23, 325 
Rustum, 311-12 
Ahmed,son of Ghishghftsh, 1 1 1-12, 128 
*Ain esh Shems, 7, 217 
'Aintab, missionary schools at, 334 
Ajlun hills of, 16 
'Akabah, Gulf of, 14 
Al Herdeh, village of, 233 
'Ala, Jebel el, 276, 302, 305, 309, 310 
AlSni, 314-16 

Aleppo, 66, 222n., 232, 244, 250, 251, 
256, 270-72, 311, 314; descrip- 
tion, 260-69 
Alexander the Great, 242, 336 
Alexandretta, 262, 265, 270, 324, 336 
Alexandria, 240 

'Ali id Diftb ul 'AdwSn, SultSn ibn, 16 
Muhammad, Pasha of Aleppo, 

148, 268 
Pasha, Amir, 145-47, ^49 



AUftt, 95 

'Alya, Jebel el, 51-52, 64 
Amanus,* Mount, 336 
Amereh, mound of, 26 
American College, Beyrout, 208, 230 
Survey, the. 77, 171, 276, 
297 
'AmmSn, 13, 20, 27, 56, 164 
'Anazeh tribe, the, 24, 25,65. 127, 152, 

172, 197 
Anglo-Japanese alliance, 229 
'Antara, poetry of, 59-60 
Anti-Libanus, iii, 121, 159, 167 
Antioch, 175, 270, 277, 278, 281, 310 ; % 

description and relics, 318-27, 336 
Apamea, 242, 327 
Apostles* Well, the, see 'Ain esh 

Shems 
Arabic inscriptions, 122, 242 
Arabs, 14, 16, 23 at seq., 56-58, 66- 
67 ; hospitality, 32-33, 37, 55-57 ; 
customs, &c., 36-37, 42, 49, 67 ; 
poetry, 60-63 .* inter- tribal rela- 
tions, 65-66 
'Areh, village of, 81, 85 
'Arjftrmeh, the, 14 

Armenians, 140 ; the Armenian ques- 
tion, 328-29 
Asad Beg, 171 
Asbft 'i, Mustafa el, 148 
'Asl, swamp of the, 242 
Assassins, sect of the, 196 
At Tabari, history of, 80 
Athens, 297 ; the Acropolis, 167 
Awftd, the Arab, 121-23, 127 
'Awais, Yusef el, 160 
Azam Zadeh family at Hamah, 223- 

24 
Azrak, Kala 'at el, 84 

Ba'albek, 159-160; Temple of The 
Sun, 164-169 ; Temple of Jupiter, 
i73» 177 \ Basilica of Constantine. 
183 ; Ras ul 'Ain, 187 ; Christian 
church at, 214 

Bab el Hawa, the, 297, 301 

Babiska, village, 297-98 

Babylonia, 241 



342 



INDEX 



Baghdad, 66, iii ; the railway to 

261-62 
Bap;hrfts, castle of, 336 
Bailftn, Pass of, 336 
Baitocaice, 214 

Bftkirha, ruins of, 278, 298-303 
Balad, Sheikh el, 58 
Bai&d. village of, 287-89 
Barada, the Wadi, 159 
Bar&zi family, Hamfth, 224 
Barflzi, Mustafa Pasha el, 147, 148, 

236 
Bftrisha, Jebel, 276. 298. 301. 302 
Bashan, 84 

Basilica of Constan tine, Ba'albek, 183 
BftsufSn. church at, 288, 291 
Bathaniyyeh, 131 

Bawfibet Ullah, the, Damascus, 133 
Bedouins, 10, 23, 56, 122. 197, 256 
Bedr, battle of, 62 
Behft'is, religion of t;he, 150, 193 
Beida, Kal'at el, 34, 123-28 

White Land, 108, 121 
Belka plain, 19, 23-24 ; tribes of the, 

23-26, 56-58 
Beni 'Atiyyeh, the, 239. 240 

Awajeh tribe, the, 66 

Hassan tribe, the, 65, 68, 96 

Sakhr, 24, 33, 38, 41, 43 

Sha 'al&n. the. 25 
Beyrout, 99, 198, 208, 230, 231, 262 
Birijik, railway at, 261-62 
Birket Umm el *Amud, the, 25-26 
Bizzos, Tomb of, 253-54, 277 -^S 
Bkei'a, the plain, 198 
Black Sea, 8 

Stone at Mecca, 96 
Blunts, the travellers, 84 
Boer War, the, 229 
Bologna, 254 
Bosrft, 20, 74, 81 

el Harlr, 229 
BrSk, village of, 132 
Briinnow, "Die Provincia Arabia," 

34n., 52W. 
BukhftUh, 125 
Burj el Kfts, 282 

Heida, 293 
Burjkeh, village of, 280-81 
Busan, the Wadi, 107 
Butler, Mr., 75, 244, 276-78, 286 

Calcutta, 227 
Calycadnus River, the, 241 
Cassius, Mount, 330 
Cave villages, 1 1 1 
Caves, Namrud's, 31-37 
Chamberlain, Mr., 105 
Chaullk, 329 
Circassians, 56, 132, 238-39 



Coffee, customs, 19-20 

Coins, Roman, 27 ; Seleucid, 322 

Constan tine, coins of, 27 

Constantinople, 48, 104 

Crete, Moslems of, 152 

Cromer, Lord, 58, 105, 229 

Crown of Thorns, the, 1 1 

Crusaders, 205^6 

Cufic inscriptions, 80, 122-23 

Curzon, Lord, 229 

Cyprus, 229, 328, 335 

Da' J A tribe, the, 24-27, 40, 51, 9^ 
Damascus, 77, 99, 128-33, 198, 231 
History, 134-58 ; houses of, 
136-51, 227 ; the Great 
Mosque, 142, 150-51, 153 ; 
Friday in, 152 
Dftna, 297 ; tomb at, 31, 254, 259, 

299 
Danftdisheh family, 207 
Daphne Road, Antioch, 322 ; shrine, 

326 
Dar KIta, 286 

Dark Tower, Kal'at el Husn, 201 
Dead Sea, 10 ; Dead Sea Fruit, 11- 12 
Decimus of the Flavian Legion, 214 
Dehes, 297, 302 
Deir es Sleb, 219 
Deiret 'Azzeh, village of, 297 
Dera'a, cave village, 1 1 1 
Derwish, soldier, 171, 172 
Din, Sheikh ed, 58 
Drekish, village of, 211-12 
Drusura, 95 

Druze, the Jebel, 20, 43, 64, 70, 164 

Druzes, the, 38, 43. 5 1. 5^. 67, 70 

Habits and customs, 79-80, S2, 

83, S6, 128 ; the fight against 

the Sukhur, 88-106 ; dread 

of the Mohammadans, 306- 

309 
Dussaud, Monsieur, 75, 84, 102, 122-- 

23. 125. 175 

Effendi, Dervish, 227 

Yflsef, 85-87, 13s 
Effendim, 219-220 
Egypt, English rule in, 57-58 
E] Jeita, village of, 11 1 
£1, the God, 124 

Ajlftt, III 

Bahra, lake of, 310 

B&rah, village of, 245, 247, 24^ 

Hayyat, mosque of, 230 

Khudr, Well of, 94, 96 

MughSra, village of, 255 

Muwaggar, 52-54, 126 
Emesa, Roman city, 181, 186 
Epiphaneia, fortress of. 23 1 



INDEX 



343 



Ethreh, 84 
Euphrates, the, 268 
Euting, M., 84 

Fafertin, village of, 274, 282 
Fftiz, nephew of Muhammad en 
Nassftr, 107, 111-12, 128, 339 
el Atrash, Sheikh of Kreyeh, jy^ 

81 
Talal ul, 24, 25 
F&ris, muleteer, 270 tt seq,, 302, 310 

Habib, 19-20, 22, 339 
Fayyftd, Agha of Karyatein, 152 
Fedhameh, village of, iii 
Fellahin, the, 56 ; social condition, 
206-7, •'iH7-i8 
Bank, the, 58 
Fendi, guide, jy, 78, 88 
Fida, Abu '1. 22 
France, Baghdad railway scheme, 261 

Gablan; the Arab, 39-40, 44, 49, 52, 

54. 55. S9-60, 6^. 76, 339 
Gariz, the, Seleucia, 331, 333, 334, 

337 
Gates of God, the, 133 

Germany, Baghdad railway scheme, 

261 
Gethsemane. valley of, 4 
Gharz. the Ghadir el, ii6, 121-23 

the Wftdi el, 125 
Ghassftnid forts, 34, 52. 126 
Ghawftmy, the, 41 
Ghazu, the sport, 66-67 
Ghi&tk, the, 96, 119-28 
Ghishghftsh, Sheikh of Umm Huweik, 

107, 111-12, 120 
GhOr, the, 11, 16-19, 23 
Giour Dftgh, the, 288, 301 
Greek inscriptions. 122-23, ^A^> 253- 

54 
Greeks, 140 

Habib, muleteer, 3, 16, 74, 112, 124, 

168, 172, 270 
Hadudmadiid, 293 
Haida, Dr., 171 
Haifa, 19 

HAil, town of, 44, 47, 48, 84 
Haji Railway, the, 22. 34 

road, the, 239-40 
Hamftd, the, iii, 112 
HamSh, 168 

Roman road from, 218-220; 

description, 221-23 ; the 

Mosque, 223 ; people, 223-29 

Hamdftn, son of Sheikh Understnad- 

ing, 120 
Hamud, 51 

oi Sweida* 82, 94 



Hanelos, 125 

Hftrim, 306, 309-310; the castle, 

310-311 
Harith, Ibn el, 62 
Harra, the Burnt Land, 108 
Harun er Rashid, 212 
Haseneh tribe, the, 172, 197 
Hftss, Jebel el, 260 
Hassan Beg Nft'i, 182-85 
Hassaniyyeh tribe, the, 24, 65-70, 88 
Haurftn, mountains of, 18, 58, 70, 75. 

76 
Hayftt, Kalybeh at, 131 
Heart of God, 1 16 
Hejaz Railway, the, 136 
Helbftn, mud village of, 256 
Hermon Mountains, 121. 159 
Heshbftn, 16 

Hind, the land of, 195, 196 
Hira, 126 
Hit, village of, 131 
Hittites, the, 175 
Hober, village of, 260 
Holy Sepulchre, Church of the, 2 
Homs, III, 168, 17s, 176, 193-94 
Castle of, 179, 181 ; people of* 

180-81, 186-90; houses of, 

182-86 ; the Marj ul* Asi, 186 ; 

Stony Plain of, 197 
Homsi, Nicola, 266 
Howeitftt, the, 65, 239, 240 
Hurmul, Tower of, 172, 175 
Husn es Suleiman, 213-17 

Kal'at el, 195, 199, 201-209, 

339 ; Greek Monastery • at, 

209-210 

Ibrahim, the Armenian, 329-30, 333- 

34 
muleteer, 3 

Pasha, 36, 180 
Iliftn, Milhfim, 85, Z6, 96-99, loa, 105 
Imtain, 70, 82, 92 
Iron Gate, Antioch, 325 
'Isa, Fellah ul, 51, 55-57, 69-70, 164 
Islamism, 227-29 

Ismailis, 195 ; religion. 233-35, ^79 
'Izzet Pasha, 149, 212-13 

[ADA 'Uah, 69, 85 
Jaffa 8 

fapanese War, 103-4, 156, 160, 183 
febel-Halakah, the, 297 
[ebeliyyeh Arabs, the, 75, 96 
Jericho, the road to, 10, 1 1 

Jertln, oasis of, 152-53 
ertldi, the brigand, see Muhammad 
Pasha, Sheikh of Jerud 
Jerusalem, 4, 90, 160, 266 
Jisr el Wftd, bndge of, a to 



344 

JOf, 47. 84 

Jordan valley, 10 et ieq, 

Judaea, 7-10 



Kabul, 227 

Kabuseh, village of, 334, 335 

Kadesh, 177-79 

K&f, 84 

Kais, Amr ul, 59, 60, 67 

Kalam, Mushkin, 148, 149 

Kalb LOzeh, church of, 278, 302-6 

KalOteh, 282, 285 ; church of, 286- 

87 
Kftmu'a Hurmul, 172, 175 

Kanawat, 164 ; the basilica, 1 1 1 ; 

illustrations, 109, 113, 115 

Kantarah, the, 119 

K&ramurt, village of, 336 

Karyatein, oasis of, 152 

Kasr el Ahla, see Kasr el 'Alya 

*Alya, 52 

Ban»t, 255, 257 

Kastal. 34, 126 

Katurft, 282 

Kb6s, Monsieur, 222-24, 230, 231 

Kbeshin, hamlet of, 273 

Kefr 'Abid, 260 

Anbll, 244, 246 

Lftb, 292-95 

Nebu, 288 
Keifftr, village of, 288 
Kerak, 205-6 
Khabb&z, Hanna, 194 
KhSlid Beg 'Azam, 227 
Kharftneh, ruins of, 54 
Khayyftm, Omar, 23 
Khir&b esh Shems, 282, 283 ; churcli 

at, 285-86 
Khlrbet H&ss, village of, 244-45 
Khittftb, 112, 119, 128 
Khudr, prisoner, 196 
Khureibet es Suk, temple and mauso 

leum, 28-31 
Ki&zim Pasha, Vali at Aleppo, 262-66 
Kiepert, maps, 168-71, 259, 260, 273 
Killani family at Ham&h, 224, 227, 

23s 
Kill&iiyyeh Tekah, Ham&h. 225, 

227 
Killiz, 261 

Knights Hospitallers, 205-6 
Knights Templars, 206, 211 
Konia, 171, 270 
Kreyeh, 78, 81 
Kseir, town of, 172-75 
Ksejba, village of, 297 
Kubbeh in Mosque at Hamah, 223 
Kubbet el Khazneh, the, 141, 147, 

148 
Kuda'a, tribe of, 139 



INDEX 



Kuleib, 83 

KulthQm, Ibn, song of, 1 39 

Kur'ftn, reading of the, 233-34 

Kurds, 103, 273-74, 288, 291-96 

Kurumfuleh, the, 160-63 

Kuruntul, monastery of, 1 1 

Kuseir es Sahl, 28 

Kutaila, dirge of, 62 

Kuwdk River, the, 259 

Kweit, 48, 265 

Kymet, the Kurdish woma 4-35 

Lahiteh, 132 

Laodocia ad Orontem, 176 

Larissa, town of, 235 

Lava, lii, 124, 126 

Lebanon, Mount, 163, 164, 176 

Lebid, poetry of, 60, 61 

Lebweh, ruins at, 171 

Lejft road, the, 1 32 

Littmann, Dr., 75, yy, I2$n, 

Loculi, 329, 330 

Lutticke of Damascus, 134 

Lyall, Sir Charles, 6sn. 

Lysicrates, monument of, 297 

Ma' ALULA, monastery of, 209 

Ma 'fin, 13, 14, 22, 239 

Mabuk, the Arab, 14 

M&deba, 16, 22, 24, 26 

Mahmud, Hajj, the zaptieh 231-46. 
250, 252. 259, 272, 339 

Malek ed D&her, Sultan, 206 

Manuscripts, illuminated, 148 

Mftr EUfts, church of, 182 

Mar Saba, monastery of, 1 5 

Mar&h, teut marks, 127 

Mar j ul * Asi of the Orontes, 1 86 

Marlborough Club, the, 196 

MzLsyftd, 217-19 

Matkh swamp, the, 259, 269 

Mazar of Sheikh Ser&k, 123 

Mecca, 265 

Railway, 13, 171 ; pilgrims, 08; 
239 ; the B/ack Stone at. 96 , 
customs, 259 

Medft'in Saleh, 239 

Medina, 239, 259, 265 

Mehes, 297, 302 

Meiditn, the, Damascus, 133, 151 

Mersina, 262 

Mesopotamia, 135, 279 

Meskin, 37 

Metawlleh sect, the, 160, 168, 171 

Mezerib, iii 

Mikhail, the cook, 3, 4, 12, 14, 15, 19, 
21/ 43. 73. 78. 82, 88, 92. loi, 112. 
116, 120, 128, 131, 160, 168, 172, 
^75» 217-19, 243-46. 256, 2/0-72, 
297. 302, 306, 314, 317-19. 336 40 



INDEX 



345 



MUhftm, Emir Mustafa, 319 

Moab, 10, 38 

Mohammadan invasion, seventh cen- 
tury, 76, 77 

Morris, William, 254 

Mosaics, 260 

Mosul. 293 

Mounds, 26-28, 52, 54, 122, 219, 221, 
223 

Moyemftt, village of, 259 

Mshitta, 24, 28, 34, 45, 47, 48, 126 

Mu'awiyah, 134 

Mudlk, Kal'at el, 231, 238 ; ruins 
of, 241-43 

Mughftra Merzeh, mud village, 256 

Muhammad Effendi, Mufti, 229-30 
el Atrash, Sheikh, 69, 79 
muleteer, 3, 16, 43. 56, 82, 172 
Pasha, Sheikh of Jerud, 152-57 
said ul Khftni, K&di, 189-94 
Bedouin, 120 

the Agha Kh&n, 196-97, 233 
uncle of Ibn er Rashld, 14, 48 

MujSmir, Sheikh, 51 

Musa, Kurdish guide, 279-82, 285, 
288, 291-97, 339 

Mushennef, Temple at, iii, 117 

Musil, 55W. 

Mutanabbi, poetry of, 108, 208 

Muwaggar, see El Muwaggar 

MuwSLi tribe, the, 212, 256 

Nabat(ean necropolis, 75 ; inscrip- 
tions, 80 

Nahar, Sheikh, 37-39, 43 

Nahr el 'Awftj, the ,133 

Naj6reh, ruins, 54 

Najib, Hajj, zaptieh, 272-73, 285, j 
297-98, 301, 302, 305, 306, 314. 

317-19 
Nakshibendi, Sheikh Hassan, 143. 

145. 155. 157 
NamrQd, Abu, guide, 19, 20, 26-41, 

44, 50-52, 5^-57. 339 
Napoleon III., 146 

Nasib el Atrftsh, Sheikh of Salkhad. 

84-85, 93-99 
Nassar, Muhammad en, 81, 82, 96, 

102-106, 339 
NAzim Pasha, Vaii of Syria, 135-39, 

141-45, i56-')7. 268 
Nebi Mendu, Tell, 175-79 
Negroes, 38 
Nejd. 14, 47, 84, 139 
Nejha, village of, 133 
Nosairis, the, 175, 190, 210-13, 233- 

35; 329 



Og, King, 84, III 

Olives, Mount of, 7 

Omar, Amir, 149, 159 

Omer, iii 

Oppenheim, book of, 102, 112, 125 

168 
Ormftn, village of, 100, 154 
Orontes, the, 171, 172, 176, 186, 221, 

222, 232, 235, 242, 244, 310, 320. 

322, 326-28, 330 

Palmyra, 28, iii, 129, 176, 209 
Petra, 14 
Pieria, 241 

Poets of the Ignorance, 60-63. 208 
Princeton archaeological expedition, 
256 

Ra'ib Effendi el Helu, 213 
Railways 

Hajj, 22, 34 ; Hejftz. 136 ; Mecca 
13, 171 ; Rayak-Hamah, 
261 ; Baghdad, 261-62 ; the 
French, 222 
Rftjil, Wftdi, loi 
R&meh, iii 
Rfts Ba'albek, 171 
Ras ul 'Ain, Ba'albek, 187 
Rashld, Ibn er, 14, 25, 44-4S 
Rayak, 261-62 
Redlfs, the, 14, 16 
Rhodes, island of, 13671. 
Riftd, 14, 47 

Riza Beg el' Abid, 211-13, 339 
Rolandino, monument in Bologna 

254 
Roman coms, 27, 219 ; camps. 34 ; 
tanks, 35 ; roads, 74, 160, 218, 
219, 297 ; forts, 125 
ROzah, the, 233 
Ruhbeh ^lain, the, 107-12, 123 
I Russia, pilgrims, 7-9 
: Ruwalla, the, 146, 175 
' Ruweihft, the churches at, 253-55, 
! 277-78 

■ 

Sachau, M., 250 
Sacrifice, Feast of, 68-69 
vSafa, the, 96, 105, 107-128 
Safaitic inscriptions, 122 
Sftfita Castle, 210, 211 
St. Peter, Cave of, 325 
St. Simon Stylites, church of, se^, 

Sim'ftn, Kala 'at 
St. Stephen's Gate, 4 
Salahiyyeh. 136, 152, 155 
Salamis. Gulf of, 167 



Nosainyyeh, the Jebel, 176, 195, h Salcah, city of, see Salkhad 



198 



SAleh, guide, 82-83 



346 



INDEX 



Saleh village, 101-6 

Salisbury, Lord, lo*) 

Salkhad, 69, 82-100 

Salkin, town of, 310-i^ 

Sallum, Syrian doctor, 230-31 

Salt, village of, 16, 18-19, 22-23 

Samaria, 266 

San Gimignano, 181 ^ 

Sanctuaries, 95-96 

SandQk, the Sfthib es, at Kal'at el 

Housn, 206 
Sftneh, village of, 107 
Sa'oud, Ibn, 14, 44-48 
Saphathenos, Zeus, 124 
Sarut, the River, 219 
Saflnet Nuh (Noah's Ark), 176 
Seijar, Kal* at es, 232, 235-38 
Seijari, Sheikh Ahmed, 235-38 
Selemiyyeh, 195 
Seleucia, Bay of, 329-30 

Pieria, 327-36 

Nicator, temple and tomb of, 

241. 313. 322, 327* 330 
Sellm Beg, 141, 147, 148, 155-57 
Seljuk, 206, 230 
Selmftn, 81 

Serftk, Sheikh, 123-24 
SerSya, the, Homs, 182 ; Antioch, 

322 
Serge, Archduke, 135 
Serjilla, town and ruins, 249, 250, 

252 
Sermeda, plain of, 297, 302 
SAs, Jebel, 126 
Shabha, village. 76 
Shabhiyyeh, village, y6 
Shahbah, 132 

Shakka, the Kaisaneh at, 131 
Shftm, Widiesh, 11 1 
ShammAr, the, 14, 25, 47, 48 
Sheikh Barakftt, Jebel, 280, 297 
Sheikhty, 11 1 
Sheklb el Arslftn, 151-52 
Sherarftt tribe, the, 38-41, 96 
Shibbekeh, iii 
Shibl^r Beg el Atrash, ^7, 309 
Shuraik, 125 
Sidr bushes, the, 11- 12 
Siena Cathedral, 181 
Silk industry, 313-17* 330 
Silpius, Mount, 321, 324 
Sim'to, Kal'at, 274-81 ; the villages, 

276-96 
Sir, the Wady, 23, 25 
Sirhftn, the WSdy, 77, 84 
Sitt Ferldeh, the, at Kal'at el Husn, 

202, 206 
Slime Pits of Genesis, the, 12-13 
Smfttiyyeh Arabs, the, 235-38 



amy ma, », 99 
Soktan, Sheikh, 35 
I Sommar, Mon. Luiz de, 164 
Spina Christi, legend, 11 
Stones, lettered, 122 
Suk W&di Barada, 159, 161 
Sukhur tribe, the, 14, 25, 31, 65, 88 
Sukkar, Yusef Effendi, 19-21 
SurkanyS, village, 281-82 
Sweida, 82, 85, 92, 164 
Sweidiyyeh, the, 327, 328 
Sykes, Mr. Mark, 3. 4, 164, 218 
Syria, rule in, 140-41 ; condition of 

the i)oor, 206-7 I ^^® term, 228 
S3niac inscriptions, 292 

Tahir, the Amir, 147 

ul JezSiri, Sheikh, 147 
TSrafa, poetry of, 61 
Tarutin, ruins at, 256 
Teiftlr family at Hamah, 224 
Tell esh Shih, 78 
Tell Selma, 259 
Tellftl, Abu, of Shahba, 82 
Temples 

Khureibet es Suk, 2S-31 ; Mush* 
ennef, iii, 117; the Sun. 
Ba'albek, 164, 169 ; the Leb- 
weh, 171 ; Jupiter, Ba'albek, 
I73» ^77* 214 ; Husn el Sulei- 
mftn, 213-17 
Theleleh, 49 
Thelelet el Hirsheh, 49 
Tigris, 242 

Til 21b, mound of, 20, 26, 27, 32 
Tombs 

Yadudeh, 26-28; Bizzos, 253- 
54 ; Seleucia Nicator, 33,: 
Tripoli, 195, 197 

Gate, the, 195 
Tufa, 1 1 5-16, 181 
Tuiai, 259 

es Safa, the, 121 
Turkey, rule of, 14, 16, 22, 35, 44-.>8 

85. 86, 139-41, 207, 267-68 
Turkmftn Jftmi'a, the, Homs, 182 
Turkshftn, the, 81-83, 309 

Ullah Beha, Persian prophet, 148 
'Umar, Amir, see Omar 

Mosque of, Jerusalem, i 
Umm ej J em 51, ruins, 70-74 

er Resfts, ruins, 54 

Rummftn, village, 69-70, 
78-79 

Ruweik, village, 107, 11 1 
Ummayah, house of, 135 
Understanding, Sheikh of the Ghi&th, 

X20 



INDEX 



347 



Uueif, Kureyt ibn, 99 

United States, emigration to the, 17- 

18, 163. 211 
Urfa, on the Euphrates, 19 
Uthail. 62 , 

Vah, lake, 4 

Victoria Hotel, Damascus, 133 
Vogii6, Monsieur de, 26, 125, 131, 
244, 250, 297 

Wad el Hassan'yyeh, 18 
Waddington, M., 250 
Wall of Lamentation, Jerusalem, 17 
Wa'r Homs, 197 

White Castle of the Knights Tem- 
plars, 211 

Yadudeh, tombs of, 26 
Yahiflfa, the, 160 



Yahya Beg el Atiftsh, 81, 309 
Yakit 'Ades, 272 

Yemen, 126, 229 ; the insurrection 
in, 13, 82, 262 ; the soldier in, 240 
Yezidis, beliefs of the, 379. 282, 293* 

94 
YUdiz, 268 
Yunis, Sheikh of El 6&rah, 250-53, 

255, 339 
Yusef, zaptieh guide, 23, 26, 100, 103 

Za'bibh, family of the, 207 
Zabit, the, at Sahta Castle, 211-13 
Z&deh, Reshid Agha Kakhya, 311- 19 
Zftwi3ryeh, Jebel, 244 et seq„ 356, 876 
Zebdany, 159 
Zerka Kiver, the, 51, 56 

Kala'at ez, 74 
Ziza, Roman tank at, 35 
Zuhair, poetry of, 61 



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